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Photo by: Heami Lee

This article is the latest in our series #Art4Climate, a joint initiative by the UNFCCC secretariat and Julie’s Bicycle on the work of artists who make the issue of climate change more accessible and understandable by featuring it in their work. It was inspired by a session at the Salzburg Global Seminar in early 2017.

Among the most significant impacts of climate change are its effects on food security. New York City artist Allie Wist has created a photo series imagining what dinner parties will look like in a future shaped by warming temperatures and rising sea levels.

For the photo series ‘Flooded’ Allie Wist, together with a team, photographer Heami Lee, food stylist C.C. Buckley and prop stylist Rebecca Bartoshesky, researched food relevant to sustainability and climate change debates, as well as foods from cultural traditions to support preservation, then they came up with lighting and composition to reflect sea level rise, coastlines, and their vision of our food future.

Changes in climatic conditions are already affecting global food production, and accelerating climate change in the coming decades threatens to exacerbate this. Higher temperatures and drought make it too hot and dry to grow crops in some regions, and increasing extreme weather events have the potential to destroy harvests. Likewise, heavy downpours and flooding reduce soil fertility, which prevents plant growth.

Allie believes that the world needs to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the photos reflect both the current reality of our food system and creative adaptations of food sources that may prove more viable in the future.

“The Paris Climate Change Agreement was, and is, a critical component in discussing our future food sovereignty. Not only does our current consumption (particularly that of meat) contribute to global warming, but the impacts of climate change will have an impact on food availability in acute, but complex and abstruse, ways. This includes a decrease in the availability of ocean-based food sources, the threat of food insecurity for areas experiencing higher temperatures and drought, as well as our continued impacts on biodiversity,” she said.

Oysters with Slippers; Photography by Heami Lee, creative direction by Allie Wist, food styling by C.C. Buckley, prop styling by Rebecca Bartoshesky

Allie, who took a food studies program at NYU and is interested in the intersection between food and climate change, believes that although humans severely deplete the oceans for food sources such as tuna and salmon, that oceans could also offer many potential sustainable food items in the context of rising seas.

For this reason, her menu includes many items derived from the sea, such as bivalves, seaweed, alga-gelatin, jellyfish salad, salted anchovies, oysters, clams, and kelp.

Global sea levels have been rising over the past century, currently rising at a rate of about 3.4mm per year, according to NASA.

As eight of the world’s ten largest cities are near coasts, and about 40 percent of the global population live within 100km of coastlines, sea level rise will become increasingly problematic. Higher sea levels mean that deadly and destructive storm surges push farther inland then they once did, creating more frequent flooding, putting crop production at even greater risk.

“There are real impacts that we need to face,” the artist says. “The reality of meat consumption, particularly beef, over-fished ocean stocks, and other threatened food sources, are an urgent concern that our food system doesn't always bring us face to face with on a daily basis.”

Left: Carob Agar-Agar pudding; Right: marshland town in Nueva Venecia, Colombia; Left: Photography by Heami Lee, creative direction by Allie Wist, food styling by C.C. Buckley, prop styling by Rebecca Bartoshesky; Right: Photograph by Allie Wist

To view the entire photo series and more of Allie’s work, see here.

Top photo: Photography by Heami Lee, creative direction by Allie Wist, food styling by C.C. Buckley, prop styling by Rebecca Bartoshesky

#Art4Climate is a joint initiative by the UNFCCC and Julie’s Bicycle to spot and propose super recent and new works in this broad field, but we also want to hear from you! Please send any proposals for showcasing to newsroom@unfccc.int or Chiara@juliesbicycle.com.
Please amplify our web posts with Twitter hashtag #Art4Climate and #COP23!

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