I was compelled to create this series of work about trees. Over the last few months, we have had many reports in the news about the UK government not quite living up to their promises regarding environmental laws.
When I was at school, we were taught about global warming and climate change. Governments have known about the greenhouse effect and burning fossil fuels for at least half a century. This is not new information, except now the ice caps are melting, the sea is rising, and people are experiencing catastrophic events; we are running out of time.
I know that the government are thinking on a large scale, they want to stop the manufacture of fossil fuel cars, encourage alternative power such as wind and discourage fossil fuel boilers in our homes, and of course, all this is fantastic, but I really do feel they are overlooking the small, everyday things we can do collectively as a country.
Trees harvest carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to oxygen as part of photosynthesis, and store carbon. An old or ancient tree of several hundred years will store and process more carbon than a younger tree. So how can local authorities support and justify building plans that fell old trees with the promise of replacing them with saplings?
Building new homes in greenbelt not only remove ecosystems but uses carbon with the manufacture of new materials. How many existing buildings could be converted/recycled and use land that has already been converted to a brown field site? These small actions would be hugely beneficial to the environment but sadly they are simply not done because there is more profit building on new and green field sites.
The financial profit may be lower in the short term, but the cost of continuing to damage our environment will have a massive impact on the global population and economy in the longer term. According to the latest IPCC study, it is almost too late to reverse the damage that has been done to the environment. Governments have been discussing climate change for decades, but their lack of action is too late. The sea level rising is now irreversible, and coastal populations will become climate refugees. Reductions in CO2 now would need to be “immediate, rapid and large scale” to restrict warming to 1.5-2C and then the temperature may stabilise within the next 20-30 years. A 2C increase will cause heat waves where critical temperatures are reached for both crops and human health.
It is this which drove me to create this series of work, to highlight the damage we are doing to the nature. The first three images are of a whole tree shown below,
In the first drawing the tree is whole. It is a realistic image of the tree, but in black and white pen. No colour, it has been greyed out, we are ignoring it as a culture. The tree is beautiful and harmonious, it fits within the perfect circle and is at one with the ecosystem and nature around it.
The second tree is beginning to struggle, it is still just about green, shown in watercolour, but the tips are turning red and damaged, and the third tree is beginning to die it is red and yellow it is fighting for every breath it takes.
The second half of the series, the tree is damaged. We can now see and notice the tree, it is no longer beautiful and fitting a perfect circle, it is struggling within the failing ecosystem around it. We have finally noticed it, so maybe humanity can save it? In the fifth drawing of the series the tree is just green, but the growing tips are blackened, giving the illusion that there is still hope, but the tree is beyond hope and dying and finally even though humanity have had sufficient time and warnings. Humanity have squabbled over money for too long and the damage is irreversible; the tree is dead, as shown in the final drawing.
To find out more about this series of artwork, click here.