A Key Part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement Is Practically Obsolete


 Blitz, by artist Tom Estes, a large scale digital projection on the front of the magnificent neo-classical facade of The Weston Park Museum in Sheffield. The projection took place on June 16th 2016 for the opening night of the Yorkshire Festival. In Blitz, an individual is depicted being thrown through the air by a lightning bolt, superimposed on to a Victorian Bible open to the story of Noah and the flood. Blitz therefore, recalls our own most immediate concern of tackling Climate Change and the threat of rising sea levels.  Estes states “The slapstick comedy of the image is a deliberate mitigation of surrealist shock but with the mad attention urges of a Play Station gamer”.

Storm Eva was the fifth named storm of the U.K  Met Office and Met Éireann’s Name our Storms project. Storm Eva and Storm Desmond together flooded more than 16,000 homes. Heavy rainfall from Eva occurred around three weeks after Storm Desmond had brought severe flooding to parts of Northern England, exacerbating the ongoing situation, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement on 27 December 2015 after chairing an emergency COBRA crisis meeting on Storm Eva, describing the floods as “unprecedented” and “incredibly serious” and pledging help to those affected by sending out more troops to help with the defense and clear-up of the floods. The Times reported that senior politicians regarded the floods as being the result of extreme weather caused by climate change. Labour Shadow Environment Secretary Kerry McCarthy criticized the government for cutting spending on flood defenses, stating that as “unprecedented” weather events become more common, spending on flood defenses should be increased

The Paris Agreement—was a historic piece of climate change policy adopted by leaders of 195 countries of December 2015 —pledged to limit human-caused global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, with a “stretch goal” of keeping our planet’s thermostat from rising more than 1.5 degrees. We’re supposed to do that by aggressively cutting back on fossil fuels and switching entirely to renewable energy sources by the end of the century. However, a report out in Nature today, which finds that the carbon reductions pledges penned into the Paris Agreement are ridiculously inadequate for keeping our climate within a safe and stable boundary. barring some incredible new carbon capture technology, the window for limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius appears to have closed. That’s the stark conclusion.

In addition to concluding that “the window for limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees C with high probability and without temporarily exceeding that level already seems to have closed,” the study found that the pledges outlined in the Paris Agreement will likely see global temperatures rise 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. A 3 degree uptick in global temperatures could cause sea level to rise up to 20 feet over the next few centuries, displacing hundreds of millions.

The Paris climate agreement aims at holding global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To accomplish this, countries have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) outlining their post-2020 climate action.

But as climate scientists and well-informed politicians have been saying for months, global carbon emissions are way off track if we want to meet even the 2 degree goal. Just how off track is the subject of the new analysis, led by Joeri Rogelj at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

In addition to concluding that “the window for limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees C with high probability and without temporarily exceeding that level already seems to have closed,” the study found that the pledges outlined in the Paris Agreement will likely see global temperatures rise 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. A 3 degree uptick in global temperatures could cause sea level to rise up to 20 feet over the next few centuries, displacing hundreds of millions.

Low-lying island nations, which area already drawing up relocation plans in preparation for the inevitable, fought long and hard to get the 1.5 target included in the Paris Agreement. Recently, marine biologists have also been raising their voices, reminding the public that coral reefs around the world will experience catastrophic collapse if we exceed this threshold.The fact that we’re moving so quickly in the wrong direction ought to be a wakeup call.

The work ‘Blitz by Tom Estes was shown on June 16th 2016 as a one night projection of images on Weston Park museum on the theme of Yorkshire as a modern day Utopia.
God’s Own County is a collaborative event from Sheffield based arts collectives The Collaborators and The Professors. The huge projections were shown on the front of Weston Park Museum in Sheffield. The Professors developed the idea that their Yorkshire home presents a contemporary utopia whilst The Collaborators developed from a regional response to the theme of God’s Own County. The projection ran from dusk until dawn.

For artist Tom Estes the paradox of creating a Utopia is that everyone must be in agreement, therefore all the ‘nasty’ or disagreeable people have to be gotten rid of. In any case, as Tom Estes Artist admits, “To call something Utopian is…not entirely positive…The connotation of a perfect society is offset by that of a hopelessly impractical ideal”. His work, therefore represents the Genesis flood narrative which makes up chapters 6–9 in the Book of Genesis, in the Bible. In the Genesis account, the flood occurs because God judges humanity.

As one of many flood myths found in human cultures, the narrative recounts God’s intent to return the Earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos by flooding the Earth because of humanity’s misdeeds and then remake it using the microcosm of Noah’s ark. Thus, the flood was no ordinary overflow but a reversal of creation. The narrative discusses the evil of mankind that moved God to destroy the world by the way of the flood, the preparation of the ark for certain animals, Noah, and his family, and God’s guarantee (the Noahic Covenant) for the continued existence of life under the promise that he would never send another such flood. The Genesis flood narrative is considered to be one of a number of similar flood myths.The earliest written flood myth is the Sumerian flood myth found in the ‘Epic of Ziusudra’. Earlier and very similar Mesopotamian flood stories are found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Epic of Atrahasis texts In the Atrahasis version, the flood is described as a “river” flood and dead bodies floated to the “riverbank”.

Estes work is called ‘Blitz’ a term which is a shortened version of the German word “blitz·krieg” (blĭts’krēg’) which means “A swift, sudden military offensive, usually by combined air and mobile land forces.” A recent investigation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (by Jeffrey K. Smith and Lisa F. Smith) found that the mean time spent viewing a work of art was found to be 27.2 seconds, with a median time of 17.0 seconds. So one could say that to ‘Blitz’ a gallery, is to ‘vigorously attack’, or try to see all the works in the gallery in one go. This modern phenomenon, is of course, directly oppositional to the ‘meditative’ quality that museums are meant to suggest.

Blitz, on the other hand, depicts an individual being thrown through the air by a lightning bolt. Even the medium itself, a series of photographs, suggests speed, as a recording of ‘live’ split second action’. Estes’ slapstick comedy is a deliberate mitigation of surrealist shock but with the mad attention urges of a Play Station gamer. However, the tone of imagery seems to have more in common with the traditon of late nineteeth century photography or film. The work, therefore, seems to suggest that a movement away from the slow and contemplative in the visual arts is not just a modern phenomenon. It was not until 1892 that the Lumier brothers began to create moving pictures yet Estes’ work suggests that ‘the representation of action’ was already in gestation. By the 1910’s, films like those of the Keystone Cops were an established part of popular culture and so the representation of ‘speeded action’.


Yorkshire has been hard hit by flooding. The worst of the flooding occurred on the night of Christmas Day and throughout Boxing Day across Lancashire andYorkshire. On 26 December, homes were evacuated in Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, and in Ribchester and Whalley, Lancashire; according to the Environment Agency, every river in Lancashire peaked at their highest levels since records began.

The River Wharfe risen to the height of the bridge at Wetherby, West Yorkshire.

Flooding caused at least two explosions in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, as gas mains were ruptured. One explosion and subsequent fire occurred as a result of a footbridge being swept away by the River Irwell, with footage of the incident being widely shared on social media. Floodwater also entered an electricity sub station in Hebden Bridge producing a fire.

Around 3,000 homes were left without power in North and West Yorkshire on 26 December 2016 as a result of an electricity substation being flooded. Most of the power outages occurred in the Calder Valley and around Bingley and Skipton, with substation owners Northern Powergrid stating that their engineers cannot safely reach the substations to assess the damage due to rising floodwaters.

In Leeds the River Aire flooded over its banks causing flooding in the Kirkstall Road area of the city, blocking a main route into the city. A total of 7,574 homes across the north of England were without power by 0800 GMT on 27 December. Around 5,500 of these homes without power were located in the town of Rochdale in Greater Manchester, where a major electricity substation was flooded. As a result of power outages in Rochdale, electricity customers were told to limit their electricity usage to prevent further blackouts, for example by switching off their Christmas lights. Electricity provider Electricity North West warned that some homes would be without power until 28 December.

In York the Environment Agency were forced to open the Foss Barrier which has protected the city centre since 1987, as the control room had become flooded and the pumps were in danger of failing. To prevent the River Foss backing up and causing flooding, the Agency raised the barrier, allowing the flood waters from the River Ouse to move up the Foss. The action caused some 600 households in the city to flood whereas the Environment agency estimated 1800 homes would have flooded were the barrier not lifted. On 29 December part of Tadcaster Bridge in North Yorkshire collapsed due to flooding, having been closed since 27 December due to fears it had been structurally compromised.


Estes’ work was also part of the exhibition- Speeding & Braking: Navigating Acceleration

and at The New Art Gallery Walsall, next to/ and in relation to the galleries principle masterpiece, Vincent Van Gogh’s work, ‘Sorrow'(1882). http://artselectronic.weebly.com/event/blitz-by-tom-estes-at-new-gallery-walsall








About Art Selectronic

Art Selectronic is an artist-led initiative, that supports grass-roots contemporary art that remains unswayed by fashion, trends or the whims of government funding. The project involves ongoing research into the placing of contemporary art, it’s audiences and it’s relationship to the everyday. We place great emphasis on context. Our mission is to support new works of contemporary art and foster an audience from a wide range of backgrounds.
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