The Climate Change Clock

Time is Ticking

Addison Becker, Staff Writer

7 years left? Started in 2019 by Gan Golin and Andrew Boyd, The Climate Clock is an art piece showing the countdown until anthropogenic activities, such as burning fossil fuels, have caused irreversible effects on the climate. According to the Climate Clock organization’s website, the countdown is a physical representation revealing the time left until humans exceed our “carbon budget.” The creators work alongside scientists to determine an accurate countdown. Furthermore, their website says, “This clock follows the methodology of the carbon clock made by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC).”  Each year the Climate Clock is installed in different cities to be a visible representation of how the time until the climate crisis is too advanced. The Climate Clock is a part of a larger organization of activists, including Greta Thunberg, for raising awareness for the immediate climate issues burdening the Earth.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

In 2020, the Climate Clock was moved out of Berlin and to the heart of New York City and immediately went viral on social media. The hashtags, “#ActInTime and #ClimateClock” exploded on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, with people urging each other to make lifestyle changes in order to reduce their carbon footprint. The images of the clock showing the seven-year countdown invoked feelings of panic and fear among people concerned about environmental issues.  

So what can society do to make the countdown longer? The answer isn’t as simple as it seems. In order to reduce climate change, society needs to lessen its carbon emissions. The release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and other human activities, causes immense amounts of carbon to remain in the atmospheric stage, causing global warming. Additionally, the carbon could be absorbed by the ocean, which potentially has detrimental effects on marine organisms. Overall, making environmentally conscious decisions, such as buying organic foods, carpooling, and conserving electricity, can help reduce carbon emissions.

Oakton Environmental Club President, Sydney Rico, shares her thoughts on the New York City Climate Clock. “The climate clock aims to make the climate crisis tangible; like something that is, in fact, going to kill us,” she asserts. Sydney continues saying “However, fear of an end without hope for a livable planet accompanying it is genuinely detrimental to the movement for climate action. I’m not just speculating here, I’ve seen with my own eyes people who want to get involved and “do something” perk up at success stories that they can perpetuate and terminate their commitment when doom convinces them that they won’t have impact.” Sydney is extremely passionate about environmental issues that are currently plaguing the world and is actively working to reduce her own carbon footprint while influencing others to do the same.