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INTRODUCTION


Based at the University of California at Santa Cruz, The Center for the Study of the Force Majeure brings together artists and scientists to design ecosystem-adaptation projects in critical regions around the world to respond to climate change.

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INTRODUCTION


Based at the University of California at Santa Cruz, The Center for the Study of the Force Majeure brings together artists and scientists to design ecosystem-adaptation projects in critical regions around the world to respond to climate change.

See project outlines below ↓

See project outlines below ↓

The threat 

Like an oncoming storm front, the Force Majeure is a fluid frontier; a frontier of heat moving across the planet; a frontier of water advancing on lands; a frontier of extinctions touching all lives .  It is a frontier from which we retreat, yet within which we must also adapt.


The opportunity

Our motto is, Think Globally, Act Globally. We must adapt to the Force Majeure at the scale in which it occurs.  We believe that Art and Science working together can provide key insights and solutions. This can be done – if we re-imagine what’s possible.  At the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure, we’re doing just that. We invite you to join us!


FORCE MAJEUR NOMINATED AS FINALISTS FOR THE 2014 FULLER CHALLENGE 

The Fuller Challenge invites designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists, planners and scientists to submit their game-changing solutions to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

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WORKS


The Force Majeure, when framed ecologically, delineates human accelerated global warming produced by the vast industrial processes of extraction and CO2 production.

WORKS


The Force Majeure, when framed ecologically, delineates human accelerated global warming produced by the vast industrial processes of extraction and CO2 production.

Sagehen in the High Sierra: A Future Garden

Funded by the Annenberg Foundation

A Future Garden for the Sagehen Watershed in the Sierra Nevada is located in the 9,000 acre UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field Station. At this site we have tested a representative group of plant species at five different altitudes to see if enough individuals would survive to create what we call a resilience ensemble. This smaller ensemble would be the source to reestablish both the ecological regeneration and water-holding properties of the earth more rapidly than unassisted natural processes. The question we posed for the 8,000 acre Sagehen drain basin was, is there enough biodiversity in the species currently existing in Sagehen to survive when the high grounds of the Sierra experience rapid warming in the next 50 to 100 years?  

A 50-year project, this work is still underway that began with the propagation of 12,000 plants from seed gathered in the watershed. In the third year of operation, we have a 25 percent  successful survival rate of species in all plots, at all elevations.

Imagine an ecosystem following a glacier as it retreats. At Sagehen Experiment we are breaking ground to test a replicable, real-world creative response…

Continue to full project description →

The Bays of San Francisco

If sea levels rise 8 feet, San Francisco Bay will become a 250,000-acre estuarial lagoon. As ocean waters rise and storms increase in frequency and severity, it is likely that storm surges will force waters from the expanded Bay(s) into the inland valleys toward Stockton in the South and Sacramento in the East. 

We ask the question: How should we confront, value, learn from, assist, and benefit from this new set of circumstances at the scale at which they’re happening?

Continue to full project description →

Peninsula Europe

The United Nations projects that by 2025, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water-stressed conditions. Europe will not escape unscathed. By 2060, scientists expect a 20% decrease in river flows throughout Southern Europe due to climate changes. Combined with increased food demand, which is expected to double by 2050, Europe’s ability to produce its own food could face significant challenges. Given the tremendous stress on resources, the probability of civil strife is high. 

What can art tell us about the possibility of adapting at scale to such conditions?

Continue to full project description →

Tibet is the High Ground

Global warming and severe deforestation have endangered the 7 major and countless minor rivers flowing from the Tibetan Plateau, which nourish much of Asia from Pakistan to southern China. The wellbeing of almost 3 billion people depends upon reliable water draining from the world’s third largest icepack. China is now diverting waters from the Plateau, and conflict with other countries seems inevitable. 

In 1992, at the request of the Dalai Lama, the Harrisons proposed a surprising solution.

Continue to full project description →

Saving The West 2016-Ongoing

Decades of fire suppression and clear cutting in the western United States have produced forests overgrown with small diameter trees creating thickets that choke out biodiversity and act like a tinderboxes. This inflammatory mix results in forests in constant danger of mega fires, destroying property, wildlife and water supplies, and potentially devastating whole human and non-human communities.

We urgently need to restructure forested areas throughout the west by selectively removing the excess small diameter trees and brush and returning low burning, ground fires to the ecosystem. Fire is essential for forest health, cleaning up underbrush and helping seeds to germinate.

The Saving the West project is designed to promote ecological function by selectively cutting young, small diameter trees, restoring ground cover and leaving all the big old ones to preserve variable forest structure.

CONTINUE TO PROJECT WEBSITE →


WE HAVE TO.

WE HAVE TO.

Why are we doing this? - Because The Force Majeure isn’t just another issue, it is THE issue. It overshadows everything else. If we don't do our part we are failing ourselves, our friends, our families and our society, as well as our planet. 


Why do we care? - Because our very survival is at stake. This will affect literally everyone on the planet; hundreds of millions of people already live in low-lying coastal areas - we're talking about something that is going to immiserate millions, perhaps billions of people, cripple our ability to provide food for a rapidly growing population and disrupt the lives and culture of the vast majority of people on the planet.

Why Artists? - Why not artists? Art is the court of last resort – and our best hope. The evidence is overwhelming, and many people are, indeed, overwhelmed. But case after case that we have looked at all over the world, these issues have been looked at locally - we saw a crying need to find ways to talk about the problem at the scale in which it is occurring. That can be terrifying and discouraging, but for us it opens the door to creative possibilities…

 

 

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THE HARRISONS


Among the leading pioneers of the eco-art movement, the collaborative team of Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison have worked for over forty years with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to initiate collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development.

THE HARRISONS


Among the leading pioneers of the eco-art movement, the collaborative team of Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison have worked for over forty years with biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners and other artists to initiate collaborative dialogues to uncover ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development.

The Harrison Studio

The Harrisons’ concept of art embraces a breathtaking range of disciplines. They are historians, diplomats, ecologists, investigators, emissaries and art activists. Their work involves proposing solutions and involves not only public discussion, but community involvement and extensive mapping and documentation of these proposals in an art context. Past projects have focused on watershed restoration, urban renewal, agriculture and forestry issues and urban ecologies. The Harrisons’ visionary projects have, on occasion, led to changes in governmental policy and have expanded dialogue around previously unexplored issues leading to practical implementations variously in the United States and Europe.

Read more about the team →

 


Five Understandings

From the Harrison Studio Manifesto

 

First understanding

Nature’s economic system stores the energy that it does not immediately need
mostly in carbon formations

Second understanding

Nature does not charge a profit as do culture’s economic systems

Third understanding

All natural systems are dissipative structures with individuals that form them living,
reproducing then dying with indeterminacy as a norm

Fourth understanding

All natural systems have learned to nest within each other, and, within a context of
symbiosis contribute to collective systems survival, sometimes with abundance

Fifth understanding

Human constructed artifacts particularly legal, political, economic as well as
production and consumption systems seek constancy but are often in violation of the
laws of conservation of energy pointing toward systems entropy 

 

READ THE FULL MANIFESTO