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Life-size elephant sculptures walk past the U.K Parliament in London's Mall as part of Coexistence, an environmental art campaign produced by Elephant Family, a charity that works to save endangered Asian wildlife from extinction. Photo by Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

OMG WTF: We Told You So

Abby Zimet

The new apocalyptic report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released on a day that saw 500,000 acres of forest burning in California and Venice tourists wading through ankle-deep water, confirmed for the 786th time what scientists have long been shrieking at us - that global warming from humanity's criminal use of fossil fuels has caused "unprecedented and irreversible change" to the planet, which we may or may not be able to save. In the report, over 200 climate scientists found that global warning is "worse than we thought and also getting worser," in the words of Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin, who called it "the worst choose-your-own-adventure book ever," where "all the endings are terrible, but some are much worse than others." Brenda is the creation of First Dog on the Moon, the award-winning political cartoonist for The Guardian Australia; evidently related to Andrew Marlton, "Mr. OntheMoon" has produced cartoons about climate change, Medicare, racist jails, migrants - seeing a drowning person, "How do I know this isn't some sort of trick?" and what if other drowning people expect me to help them? - and, when the news is too much, good moments like "before the first sip of coffee in the morning when it's too early to think who was exploited so I could have this coffee." He also wrote The Carbon-Neutral Adventures of the Indefatigable EnviroTeens, a graphic novel about three teenagers and a chicken who are determined to save the world from climate change because "nobody else is." The lesson of both their endeavors and the latest report: "If it wasn't time to listen before (it was), it is time to listen now...We don't need hope, we need action."

For starters, perhaps, consider CoExistence, an environmental art installation of 100 life-sized lantana elephant sculptures that are making their way across the globe "to encourage people to remember that they are of, and for nature." The project is "a call to change the global conservation paradigm," says Dr. Tarsh Thekaekara, “from saving nature in far-away pockets to living well with nature around us." As the largest existing land mammals on earth, elephants require large areas of land, water and food, all resources that have dwindled with the invasion of humans. In an effort to draw attention to their plight, Elephant Family and The Real Elephant Collective partnered to launch the CoExistence elephants, which were hand-crafted in India by indigenous communities and migrated to London in May. Since June, eight separate herds have been on exhibition and for sale in the city; in addition to the sculptures, original artworks have been on display highlighting the theme of peaceful human-wildlife coexistence. Proceeds from the project will go to initiatives across India helping further that goal, from promoting indigenous tolerance of wildlife to creating technological solutions to keep both animals and people safe in shared spaces. As with the fires, droughts, floods and heat of climate change, organizers of the project view this instant on the planet as a tipping point, a chance to confront "an issue bigger than ourselves" in order to halt a slide to disastrous, irrevocable loss - or not. Their message, like Brenda's, the EnviroTeens', the 785 experts' reports before this one: "We told you so."

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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