What does art have to do with the Earh’s climate?

To me, sustainability means… thinking of the Earth not as a resource, but as a living environment—and hence both consuming and living our lives in a way that puts not humankind, but the ecological order of things first. It’s about this awareness that we’re ultimately just part of a system, one that could exist without us while we couldn’t exist without it.

Climate change is relevant to the cultural world because… the cause of climate change is anchored in our social structure. And art, specifically, always plays a role in shaping this structure while simultaneously being part of it. What’s more, climate change means that we’ll be facing all kinds of new circumstances over the next several years where culture will have to find a new place and decisions will have to be made with an eye to sustainability.

© Oama Richson

Art can change the world by… pointing out what else, for whatever reason, is being hampered in its development, and also by aesthetically transforming difficult-to-grasp content in such a way that it can be understood emotionally and beyond the realm of mere facts.

Climate change makes itself noticed in my work as… deliberate engagement with the theme by way of music and an awareness of the opportunities that I have to function as a multiplier, bringing the topics of climate change and the climate crisis into new settings through my teaching.

My personal contribution to the protection of our climate is… the creation of an awareness in my surroundings of how every single individual is affected by the climate crisis but also capable of acting to change something about our situation.

For the future, I hope… for some of the burden to be taken off of individuals by policymakers and businesspeople focused not merely on profit but on ecological and social sustainability. And until that happens, I think that art’s job is to point out what’s still going wrong.

In our series, “What does art have to do with the Earth’s climate?” the “Green mdw” initiative invites concerned individuals to speak out on their personal approaches to this issue.

Benno Dünser studies the school teaching subject of music education at the mdw and was the hmdw’s very first spokesperson on environmental issues. He already teaches music and biology at a school in Vienna and is also a participant in the project Arts of Change – Change of Arts, in which students from all of Austria’s arts universities join forces to shape transformative change as well as work to promote sustainable development.

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