Our mission is to accelerate action on climate change by creating, collecting and sharing evocative visual evidence of climate change processes, many of which occur at a rate too slow to be seen with the naked eye.
The name is inspired by the metaphor that Earth is a spaceship, traveling at high speed through the chaos of space as a self‐contained system, dependent on its own vulnerable supplies of natural resources. The ‘Spaceship Earth' world view encourages everyone on Earth to act as a harmonious crew working toward the survival and well-being of the ship. This metaphor is often used in conjunction with the ‘overview effect' - the cognitive shift that many astronauts experience when they see the reality of Earth in space for the first time, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, shielded by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us are rendered trivial, and the need to create a united will to protect the planet becomes both obvious and imperative.
Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future with the potential to bring more displacement and destruction globally than all wars in history combined. Although climate change is a problem of enormous scale, it is also one that is difficult to see and comprehend.
Human biases lead people to defer from acting in the present where they do not see an immediate effect of their action, where there is a large delay or abstraction between cause and effect, or the problem is perceived to be in the distant future. Humans are predominantly visual creatures with more than a third of the human brain devoted to processing visual information. The absence of widespread visual evidence of climate change allows denial and complacency to ensure that we remain in a status quo on a perilous trajectory. The result is political deadlock and social inaction, whereby even those that believe in climate change are insufficiently motivated or incentivized to consider a change in behavior.
While climate change processes are occurring alarmingly quickly on a scale related to the lifespan of planet Earth, they are very slow on a human lifespan scale. The processes are often too slow for tangible change to be seen with the naked eye. To date, the evidence of climate change, while virtually indisputable, has been limited to abstract data and a small amount of visual evidence. This has been insufficient in provoking sufficient action on a social and political level.
We intend to leverage time lapse photography and historical photo/satellite image research to highlight the impact of climate change. We intend to deploy time lapse cameras at impacted locations around the world, to show long-term processes that cannot be seen otherwise. Additionally, we intend to present comparisons of current vs historical still photos and satellite images. We aim to make the issue visible and inspire action by providing undeniable visual evidence of long-term processes, with beautiful, viscerally evocative footage that can be shared among a large population. We believe an abundance of compelling visual evidence could have the following benefits:
- Raise awareness of the urgency of climate change as an issue, that this is a problem in the present and even the past, not just the distant future
- Bridge the cause and effect gap between carbon emitting activity and its impact on the planet
- Stimulate governmental intervention to end fossil fuel subsidies, increase renewable energy subsidies and provide federal aid to those impacted by climate change
- Stimulate further private sector action and investment in sustainable energy creation and consumption
- Evoke a cognitive shift in the prioritization of the sustainable prosperity of our spaceship, inspiring people to consider the environmental impact of every decision they make, including where they live, how they source and consume energy and for whom they vote
The Spaceship Earth project aims to be present wherever climate change processes are visible. We hope to stimulate an effect equivalent to the overview effect without having to leave the planet, and inspire people to consider the sustainable prosperity of our spaceship in their every life decision. If our mission resonates with you, please consider a donation. Funds will be used to build out our network of time lapse cameras.
-- Ben Rosamond, Founder and Director of Photography