When considering climate change and the many-sided arguments that accompany it, one must turn to the core of human values to define our ultimate goals. It has been addressed in every way possible; through art, film, documentary, short film, petitions, lobbying, lawmaking, media, social media, news – both print and television, even humorous cartoons. It is certainly not a lack of information that is the problem. It must be the way the message is delivered. It has been spoken about by everyone in every kind of language from scientific, sociological, medical, legal, philosophical, and moral to the day to day practical expressed in plain old everyday English. Every type of person in every kind of setting from the highest court to the most respected of academia to the town square has been addressed. But what of the foundation? What does everyone want at their core? To be remembered.
The Higgs Boson particle, a subatomic particle theorized in 1964 and discovered in 2013, is a legacy particle. It flashed into existence for less than a billionth of a trillionth of a second then changed into other particles due to its rapid disintegration. The only reason it was able to be detected was because scientists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland were able to measure changes via the particles it became. Had there not been any perceivable shift in its surrounding environment, they would not have known it had ever been there.
The only legacy we all leave behind is the effect we have on others, the changes we create in them by interacting with them, and thus the world. Without these changes, we would not be. The ripple effect of our presence lives on in all to whom we have been close.
This is the purpose of art. It marks time, speaks of when and where we were, how we saw it, what we did, what we didn’t do. Positive and negative actions are of equal weight when marking time and influence. Olafur Eliasson speaks of results in terms of consequences, action and reaction; positive and negative space – actions taken and actions not taken all have consequences – often the latter ends in regret, remorse, self-loathing, and at worst, nothing. At the end of his TED talk he says “This is all I have.” It’s more than enough to fill the coffers of personal and professional curiosity and goad one into action – even if only in personal reflection.