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Published on March 16th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor


The Canary Project: Using Art to Tell the Story of Global Warming

Have you seen the Canary Project? You should. Founded in 2006 by Edward Morris and Susannah Sayler, the project’s mission is to produce “visual media, events, and artwork that build public understanding of human-induced climate change and energize commitment to solutions.” More simply put, the artists in the Canary Project set out four years ago to photograph the landscapes most affected by global warming- and they’re good at it. This photograph from New Orleans in 2005 is just one of a large collection of stunning and powerful images.

Photo Credit: The Canary Project Extreme Weather Events: Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, 2005

Extreme Weather Events: Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, 2005

Curious about the name? “We chose the title The Canary Project because the changing landscapes we are photographing stand as warnings of more severe changes to come, like the canaries once used by miners to warn of deadly methane levels.” – Canary Project “Why Canary?” Page

With a dedication to working collaboratively and reaching diverse audiences, the Canary Project uses media across the spectrum to get their message out: from “action packets” to meeting with audiences to the Canary Project website.

Their approach incorporates a variety of strategies, including:

  • Visualizing global warming in compelling ways to communicate a sense of urgency.
  • Integrate the tools of art with those of science, education, and mass communication.
  • Cultivate media attention to further inform a broad public.
  • Distribute information on concrete actions people can take to cut carbon emissions and lead people to take more action.

Bill McKibben wrote back in 2005 for Grist about the need for art to carry the message of climate change- the Canary Project is doing just that, alongside global projects like Facing Climate Change, a multimedia storytelling record of two artists journeying to the arctic and back, and local initiatives like San Francisco’s Artfulchange, a nonprofit that creates events combining the passions of art and environmental causes.

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