Friday, November 19, 2010

This picture changed the world

An E-mail from
Jamie Henn -
Fri, November 19, 2010 3:32:46 AM

Dear friends,

You probably know that we at are taking the next two weeks to focus on “350 EARTH” — a global art project visible from space.

And you might have asked yourself: “why art?”

Here’s a quick story that can help answer those questions:

42 years ago, astronaut William Anders raised his camera to the window of the Apollo 8 spacecraft and took one of the most iconic pictures of all time. "Earth Rise," as the photograph became known, was the first image that showed humans a wide-angle view of the fragile planet on which we live. The image was breathtaking:

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It was a picture that woke up the world. Two years later, on April 22, 1970, tens of millions of people participated in the first Earth Day. Many of the posters and flags carried that day featured the "Earth Rise" image.

Today, we're in desperate need of an updated mix of art, activism, and political change. Scientists have produced all the charts, facts and figures we need to recognize the threat of climate change and understand its urgency. Economists have shown how to transition our countries towards low-carbon economies. Nonprofit organizations have rallied, lobbied, and pleaded for progress.

And yet, by all measures, we're still not making the progress we need. While it's growing day by day, our movement has a lot of work left to do. That's why it's time to bring in the artists.

So, this November 20-27 — the week before the UN climate meetings in Cancun–we’re organizing the first ever planetary art show: 350 EARTH. In more than a dozen locations around the planet, artists are partnering with citizens to create massive art installations around the theme of climate change, from its impacts (like a sea-level rise design in New York City) to its solutions (like a solar-powered design in South Africa). The latest addition to 350 EARTH comes from Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, who has designed a gorgeous image of the legendary King Canute trying to stop a rising tide.

You can see a short list of featured locations at the bottom of this email, and if you know anyone living in these cities, please let them know about 350 EARTH.

Each image will be photographed by the satellite cameras, courtesy of DigitalGlobe’s generous donation of their satellite time to document the story. Since we can't get photos from a space ship, a satellite is the next best thing. founder Bill McKibben explains:

It’s kind of fun to imagine some other intelligence peering down through their telescopes at our blue-white orb, trying to make sense of these giant images suddenly spreading across snowfield and desert and lagoon. What they'd see is the planet's immune system coming alive–conscious, alert human beings doing their best to help safeguard the future.

Looking back on the "Earth Rise" image, Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman said that it was "the most beautiful, heart-catching sight of my life, one that sent a torrent of nostalgia, of sheer homesickness, surging through me. It was the only thing in space that had any color to it. Everything else was simply black or white. But not the Earth."

We've mostly let climate change be debated in the black-and-white world of text and policy. 350 EARTH is different. For a week, we’ll work in color: with art, spirit, and passion.

I hope you’ll join us,

Jamie Henn – (@Agent350 on Twitter)

P.S. Moving into 2011, is gearing up for lots of strategic campaigns and mass mobilizations–much more on that soon, after 350 EARTH.

P.P.S. Here’s that list of cities that need more participants–if you know anyone who lives in them, please let them know about 350 EARTH and pass along the info below.

Australia (Broken Hill – Friday, November 26, 9pm & 11pm)

Canada (Vancouver – Sunday, 21 November, 9:30-11:30am)

Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo – 21 de noviembre, 8:30 AM)

Egypt (Cairo – Friday, 26 November)

England (Brighton – Exact Location TBA)

Iceland (Reykjavik – November 27)

Mexico (Mexico City/DF – Lunes, 22 de noviembre, 09:15 AM)

Spain (Platja de los Eucaliptus, Delta del Ebro – Sábado, 20 de noviembre, 11:00 AM)

South Africa (Cape Town, 10am, Saturday, 27 November)

USA (Los Angeles – SUNDAY, Nov. 21. Arrive at 9:30 AM / Santa Fe – Saturday, November 20th, 2010)

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