We are currently battered by an unusual stretch of heat and drought, leading to ferocious forest fires and dying crops on the fields – bringing climate change sharply up into our consciousness. What is usually far too easy to push back and forget about, a problem so distant and abstract that there are still people denying its existence, is suddenly not distant at all and we have to face it. We are greedily taking and using up resources, destroying nature. Yet we are not, strictly speaking, destroying our planet. Rather we are destroying the environmental conditions and facilities that we humans need for our own survival. We are polluting the air we need to breathe, destroying the mild climate that helped humanity to live, grow and prosper. The planet will remain, but change, becoming hostile to us.
This painting shows a ravaged stretch of nature full of devastation. The sky is covered by dark clouds, mists are hovering over the ground. Dead trees rise up into the sky or have tumbled to the ground. There are no traces of people or animals – it is a hostile place, uninhabitable for humans.
Yet it is not dead. Tree stems are decaying, broken down by microorganisms. Lichen and moss is growing over them. Nature is adjusting – one organism dies, another prospers.
Unfortunately we humans are placing ourselves among the dying organisms.
This painting is asking, warning us as a society to grow and change our behaviour, for nature’s as well as our own sakes.
Artwork: Petri Ala-Maunus, Fells after the Fall, 2017. Seen in the Ateneum, Helsinki, Finland.