Monday, February 09, 2009

Climate Change Threatens Art

In my real life, I do some work on climate change, among other things. But I'd never heard of this particular threat to art in tropical countries.
Art treasures in tropical nations are under threat from climate change which is likely to speed decay, U.N. experts said on Sunday. "The art world is made of materials that bugs like," said Jose-Luis Ramirez, head of the U.N. University's programme for biotechnology for Latin America and the Caribbean. "Climate change is a threat because it is going to increase the amount of fungus and bugs in many regions," he told Reuters of a meeting of experts in Caracas from Feb. 9-12 on new ways to protect art collections. Much of the world's cultural heritage is made of canvas, wood, paper or leather which "in prolonged warmth and dampness, attract mould, micro-organisms and insects, causing decay and disintegration," a U.N. University statement said. Many museums, especially in tropical nations, lack even air conditioning to protect collections of paintings, sculptures and other art from likely shifts in humidity and temperature, Ramirez said.
There's a lot of focus on the large-scale effects of climate change - desertification, flooding, etc. But I wonder whether the relentless accumulation of stories of smaller-scale effects is not, in the end, a more effective way of communicating the gravity of climate change.

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