This International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development has witnessed the rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of covid, as well as a new coronavirus variant, known as C.1.2 with multiple mutations, amidst the worst wildfire season on record.
But then, akin to corona and pollution, the transboundary nature of digital art is allowing me to participate in twelve international art shows during September, with the theme of a sustainable and resilient recovery from the covid-19 pandemic with my "Breathe Life" and “Art in the Time of Corona” series of art shows that were published by CUHK Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change. In my art shows, I explore the theme of pollution’s impact on corona.
The International Day of Clean Air for blue skies was celebrated for the first time last year, for which I curated a group art show that was published by the UNEP. This year, on September 7th, I am joining the Day celebrated in Nairobi, New York, and Bangkok with my solo Breathe Life digital art show.
This art show will be also exhibited on September 16th for the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity as well.
The International Day of Clean Air for blue skies serves as a rallying call to action to collectively align efforts and claim the right to clean air which impacts climate change, human and planetary health in keeping with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
UNEP explains the linkages of air quality and COVID-19 as follows:
“Air pollution poses serious health risks and kills approximately 7 million people every year (WHO). [..] Research points to a possible correlation between COVID-19 health outcomes and outdoor air pollution.
Long-term exposure to air pollution may increase vulnerability to the most severe COVID-19 outcomes. In the United States, early research has shown an increase of only 1μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with an 8% increase in the COVID-19 death rate (Wu et al. 2020).
People living in an area with high levels of air pollution may be more prone to develop chronic respiratory conditions" (Conticini, E. et al. 2020).
According to a new study by researchers at Harvard have found that short-term exposure to pollution from the record-breaking wildfires in the US last year, may have made the pandemic’s health impact worse by increasing Covid-19 cases and related deaths by thousands. More than 200 of the world's leading health journals released a joint statement imploring global leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, which they say is the greatest threat to public health.
This year, several countries have reported their worst fires in decades. Including hundreds of deadly fires across the Mediterranean; the wildfires in the US burning across Sierra Nevada for the first time; and the Wildfires in Siberia, which have collectively emitted more carbon dioxide in two and half months than the world's sixth most polluting country emits in a year according to estimates by the European Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).
These wildfires are being touted as some of the largest fires in recorded history that are increasing pollution with far-reaching impacts due to their transboundary nature to human health during the ongoing pandemic that is aggressively spreading across the world via numerous new varieties.
In essence CO2 pollution which causes climate change/global warming has amplified wildfires which produce increased carbon emissions and kill trees which convert CO2 to oxygen, heightening the pandemic’s impact on humans around the world.
Japan is the world’s sixth-largest CO2 emitter. A study found that during Japan’s COVID-19 state of emergency lockdowns, CO2 emissions in an urban area of Tokyo, decreased by 20% compared to the same period during the last few years1. With the resurgence of corona infections, the government plans to expand its COVID-19 state of emergency lockdowns again to combat the pandemic.
During this lockdown, I will be digitally exhibiting my painting titled “Tranquility in the Time of Corona” for the first time at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum from September 10-17.
This painting is part of my new digital art show:
Art in the Time of Corona 6 – Recovery Roses
Art in the Time of Corona 6 – Recovery Roses - Digital Art Show:
A wave of wildfires, eclipsing yearly averages, ravaged southern and western Italy this year after temperatures rose to 48.8 Celsius (119.84°F) in Sicily which some scientists believe could be the highest in European history. Scientists also believe that climate change is the basis of the most extreme fire season, triple in size from a year before.
This connection between rising global temperatures from climate change stemming from fossil fuel emissions warming the planet and recent extreme weather events including heatwaves which supercharge wildfires is highlighted for the first time in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report’s - Chapter 11.
Italy was the first country in the EU --which is the third-highest CO2 emitter in the World-- to be strongly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. A study quantitatively assessed how the meteorological and air quality parameters were correlated to the COVID-19 transmission in two large metropolitan areas in Northern Italy. The main findings of the study highlight that air pollution showed a positive correlation to the COVID-19 virus transmission2.
During September 17-19, I will exhibit my Recovery Roses paintings at the Forli Vernice Art Fair in Northern Italy.
The global week to act for Sustainable Development Goals is a global campaign aiming to drive action and change while reminding world leaders that people around the world are doing their part to accelerate progress on the SDGs. Held during the high-level week of United Nations General Assembly, Climate Week New York City, and ahead of Net Zero Festival in London, this year’s Global Week to #Act4SDGs raises awareness for a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A sustainable green recovery plan from the pandemic necessitates understanding the links between climate change, health, and inequality; and implementing ambitious climate change policies, which align with the Paris agreement. The United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a call for action by all countries, people to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. More important than ever, these goals provide a critical framework for a COVID-19 green recovery.
My art shows—with paintings that were acknowledged in numerous United Nations art competitions— reflect these themes. They will be exhibited at the #Act4SDGs from September 17- 28; Climate Week New York City from September 20-26; and Net Zero Festival London from September 29 to October 1, 2021.
Other Art Shows During September
Sugawara, H., Ishidoya, S., Terao, Y., Takane, Y., Kikegawa, Y., & Nakajima, K. (2021). Anthropogenic CO2 emissions changes in an urban area of Tokyo, Japan, due to the COVID-19 pandemic: A case study during the state of emergency in April–May 2020. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL092600. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL092600
Lolli, S., Chen, YC., Wang, SH. et al. Impact of meteorological conditions and air pollution on COVID-19 pandemic transmission in Italy. Sci Rep 10, 16213 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-73197-8