After reading the articles, “How the West Was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom” and “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” I was shocked at the horrible injustices farmers across the country are facing. The chemicals, such as PFOA, that are spreading across their land and coal mining that is drastically reducing their water supply is not only affecting farm animals, but also the farmers themselves. L.J. Turner claims that thirty of his calves were killed due to “‘dust pneumonia,’ a lung ailment caused by inhaling excessive airborne dust,” while over a hundred of Wilbur Tennant’s cows were killed do to the PFOA chemicals seeping into his land. The inside of Tennant’s cows were green and black, as well as having “stringy tails, malformed hooves, giant lesions protruding from their hides and red, receded eyes; cows suffering constant diarrhea, slobbering white slime the consistency of toothpaste, staggering bowlegged like drunks.” On the other hand, Wilbur Tennant and his wife both died of cancer, while another resident exposed to PFOA had to get an emergency hysterectomy.
One striking part of “How the West Was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom” that haunted me was when Karen, L.J. Turner’s wife described their wedding : “‘the well here at the house, when we first got married, it was almost artesian,’ says Karen. ‘The water came within four feet of the surface.’ The water level has dropped dramatically as mining companies suck up groundwater—a process called dewatering—to gain access to coal.”‘ Now, L.J. Turner and his wife are much older in age, and they have only seen traces of what coal mining, and climate change over all is affecting their lives. If what the Turners experienced was only a taste of something much larger, what will their children have to face?
As I mentioned during my presentation, I became interested in environmental issues after reading and working on Earthquakes in London by Mike Barlett. The play’s dramatic question concerns the ethics of bringing a child into a world that will soon be devastated by climate change. I did not think much of this question at first, but as I worked on the play more and more, it haunted me. I realized that my generation and next generation will be the ones that will have to seriously face climate change- and if I choose to bring a child into the world, I may be setting my offspring up for an extremely hard life.
Earthquakes in London, 2010. Google Images.
My final project will be a filmed performance art piece. The question driving the project is: Does the environment belong principally to the human race? This question is derived from the concept of Anthropocentrism, defined by Merriam Webster as the belief that “human beings are the most significant entity of the universe.” My follow up question would be what responsibility do humans have to the environment?
My process is going to entail:
1.Interview 5-10 people asking the topic & follow up question and record their answers if given permission.
2.Cut & edit audio clips.
3.Cut/ create video clips of night sky and nature landscapes in accordance with audio.
4.Create a movement sequence.
5.Gather materials for filming (dirt, thin white sheet)/ test projection.
7.Edit as needed.
I plan to be covered in a white sheet for the latter half of the performance to emphasize the suffocating environment that caused by climate change.
“The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich
“How the West Was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom” by Emily J. Gertz