Our One World Island | 2009

Posted on May 11, 2009 by Ruth Allen

The Earth’s ocean covers 71 per cent of the planet and absorbs twice as much sun radiation as the atmosphere or the land surface. On planet Earth the climate is largely governed by the oceans but for a long time discussions of climate change did not take the oceans fully into account, simply because very little was known about them.

Driven by temperature and salinity gradients, the thermohaline current travels a 1,000 year circuit bringing cold water and nutrients up from the deep ocean and moving warmer water from the tropics toward the poles. Part of the earth’s ocean circulatory system, these huge currents moderate the potential extremes of climate, temperature and rainfall.

Ocean currents cause the nutrient rich cold bottom waters to upwell to the surface, providing a regularly renewed food source for phytoplankton – the foundation of the marine food chain on which other marine organisms depend. Algae capture more of the sun’s energy in photosynthesis and produce more oxygen than all other plants combined.

Evidence is growing that the thermohaline current may be slowed or stopped by cold fresh water inputs to the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans. This could occur if global warming is sufficient to cause large scale melting of arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet. Such a change in the current may be gradual (over centuries) or very rapid (over a few years). Either would cause planet wide changes in climate. This effect may be part of what starts and stops the ice ages. In 2005, it was discovered that deep water formation under the Arctic “Odden ice tongue” had almost stopped.

“Diatoms (a kind of phytoplankton) are estimated to "scrub” roughly as much CO2 from the atmosphere each year as all the world’s rainforests. In coastal environments they account for as much as 90% of the organic matter generated through photosynthesis.“ Disturbance to this fragile ecosystem could cause catastrophic consequences to our breathing planet.

The “Dymaxion Map,” was created by R. Buckminster Fuller, distinguished mathematician, inventor and 20th century visionary. The Dymaxion Map is the only flat map of the entire surface of the earth that reveals our planet as it really is, an island in one ocean without any visible distortion of the relative shapes and sizes of the land areas, and without splitting any continents.

Traditional world maps reinforce the elements that separate humanity and fail to highlight the patterns and relationships emerging from the ever evolving and accelerating process of globalization. Instead of serving as “a precise means for seeing the world from the dynamic, cosmic and comprehensive viewpoint,” the maps we use still cause humanity to “appear inherently disassociated, remote, self-interestedly preoccupied with the political concept of its got to be you or me; there is not enough for both.”

Fuller’s view was that given a way to visualize the whole planet with greater accuracy, we humans will be better equipped to address challenges as we face our common future aboard Spaceship Earth. In this work I have used the Dymaxion map embracing Fuller’s philosophies of drawing attention to a consciousness of our world, the glass leaves are used as a metaphor mapping the earths ocean currents as they move from the southern hemisphere to the northern and vise versa.

The word Dymaxion is a trademarks of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Dymaxion = Dynamic + Maximum + Tension.

Exhibited at the Canberra Glassworks Gallery 2009

Photographers: Darren Weinert & Angus Young 900 x 310 x 6cm (variable)

Posted in Selected Installations