the canary project

The Canary Project photographs and exhibits landscapes around the world that are showing dramatic transformation due to global warming. The project’s photographers/developers are trying to use these photos to convince people that global warming is a clear and present danger by showing via photos, rather than telling via statistics, the evidence that global warming is already happening and should concern us right now.

The photos of the disappearing glaciers in Austria are compelling. And the Katrina photos. Maybe even the Venice photos. But the Netherlands photos don’t really show anything alarming. What the exhibit lacks are comparative photos—the before and after stuff that Al Gore used so effectively in An Inconvenient Truth. The Costa Rica cloud forest series suffers from a big lack of information—I don’t know what, exactly, I’m looking at and why it’s significant or foreboding. I do understand the dead coral reef photos because I know what a living coral reef looks like, but I’m not sure most people do. Since more people will see the website than the exhibition, the Project should spend a lot more time developing it to be a more effective tool.

The site itself is pretty, but the web designer needs to close up the space at the top because it shoves the photos down too far and makes it annoying to view them. It’s also annoying to have to squint at light gray text on all that white.

There could be more links—a lot more links—which would make the website a better resource, but perhaps those will come with time.

It could also stress what you can do right now, rather than burying it in the links page. After we saw An Inconvenient Truth, we switched our Connecticut Light & Power electricity source to 100% green (wind and methane-recovery from landfills) even though it will cost us a bit more per kilowatt hour (1.1 cent per kwh). And we switched our heating oil to biofuel last fall. We’ll buy carbon offsets as soon as we can afford to. We try to conserve energy as much as possible (which is why we were reluctant to put in the air conditioners) and we follow as many guidelines as we can (energy efficient lightbulbs, unplugging bricks and appliances when possible ... ) Multiply our efforts by millions of other households and companies doing similar things, and this might have more of an impact than anything else short of a 60s-era, NASA-like program by our government to lead the world in coming up with alternatives to fossil fuels.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/17/06 at 08:26 AM
  1. I wanted you to know that I agree with many of your comments about our website. The site will be changing and improving.  Our biggest challenge right now is incorporating the scientific content we have been generating.  We will also be adding many more links.  We started this project just months ago and until recently have been only two people (one of whom, me, is a partner in a company with offices in 5 U.S. citites and London).  As we have received funding (and of course we need more) we have been able to grow.

    Keep checking in with us to follow our progress and feel free to share your critques at any time.

    -Ed Morris

    Posted by Edward Morris  on  07/18  at  04:37 PM
  2. Lee,
    I have to be honest and tell you that the Canary Project is using some questionable pictures.  Venice when I visited it 25 years ago was the same way, locals told me that the night tides had been this way as long as any of them could remember, and these folks were not young.  I only mention this as when a reader spot one invalid group of pictures they then question all of the pictures presented.  I know it is not your project, but if I were them I would remove Venice this is just too a familiar a picture for older travelers like me and confuses their issue.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/19  at  06:52 AM
  3. As I mentioned, the images definitely suffer from a lack of context, both in terms of information presented and any way to compare the NOW with the THEN.

    I do know that Venice has been having problems with rising water levels in general, but Diana, you are right, these photos don’t show the problem, nor is there enough commentary to explain what it is one is supposed to be looking at.

    Ed Morris commented above that they’re still working on the site. My suggestion is for them to concentrate first on fixing the problems with the photos, such as providing contrast and context.

    Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, go see An Inconvenient Truth!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/19  at  09:56 AM
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