Torrential cloudbursts over England and at the same time record high temperatures in Greece. The weather this summer is giving us some idea of what to expect in years to come.
According to United Nations forecasts, more than 50 million people are going to have to leave their homes in the next four years because changes in the world’s climate will destroy the basis for their livelihoods — unless we in Europe, who are currently responsible for around 21 percent of the world’s total energy consumption, radically change our behaviour.
The artist Hermann Josef Hack highlighted changes in the world climate and their effects on society back in 1992 when he took part in the “Van Gogh TV“ project at the documenta IX. Hack is convinced that only a drastic information and education campaign can alter people’s behaviour.
“I intend to declare the city of Amsterdam a ‘climate refugee camp’“, said Hack. “The people in the Netherlands will experience the consequences of climate change before others.” Hack wants to make people aware of the already catastrophic situation of refugees along Europe's southern frontiers. Refugees who have come to Europe because they have been made homeless as a result of our egoistical behaviour should be given a peaceful and friendly reception.
Hack has already declared other cities ‘climate refugee camps’, most recently Kassel, home of the documenta, where he put up a ‘climate refugee tent’ on the campus of Kassel University. In 1998, Hack attracted publicity by rolling out a carpet made of thousands of socks in front of the Office of the Federal Chancellor. The socks had been donated by unemployed people, a play on the German expression “poor sock“ meaning “poor thing“.
Hack, who has received a UNESCO award and various international art prizes for his work, intends to continue to appeal directly to the people: “What is at stake is nothing less than the aesthetics of global survival. We have no other choice but to prevent even worse things happening and to prepare ourselves for a mass exodus on an unprecedented scale. Anyone who ignores this challenge will have to answer to future generations.”
Hack will declare Amsterdam a ‘climate refugee camp’ in front of Amsterdam Town Hall at 11.30 am on Monday, 13 August — and will put up a sign to this effect. All members of the public and representatives of the media are invited to attend.