About ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organisations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Thus, the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.
A sign on Main Street in Essex, Massachusetts, predicts a future in which climate-related sea-level rise changes the local landscape. The sign is part of a sprawling public art project by Thomas Starr, a professor of Graphic and Information Design at the Northeastern University. He has created a series of six small signs that describe how the landscape might change in the next decades. According to Starr, the signs that were installed around town in the specific places were written with plain, matter-of-fact language, drawn directly from the coastal adaptation plan. Similarly, installations in Durham, New Hampshire, and one planned in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are also site-specific. They have been designed to bring the huge problem of climate change home.
These signs are reminders of how a warming climate could affect us directly. All these signs come with a special code. These signs, when scanned with an internet-enabled phone, would direct the viewers to the municipality’s climate report. This is where all of Starr’s information comes from. Starr commented that he has met with so many municipal leaders who said, “We have these studies, but not enough people are looking at them”. Thus, Starr wants to engage citizens with what their towns are doing. These are not the only places where these signs can be a success. Starr sees the potential for this project to pop up in towns across the United States, and perhaps around the world.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman