It was a funny comment online when a pundit somewhere in the Milky Way Internet wrote: “I will pay an extra $100,000 to make it a yellow-colored Trump face,” he said the other day after reading this news. He quickly added: (“*Grabs 24 packs of Gatorade.”)
No doubt you have heard about this Finnish art project set up by three guys in Helsinki to sculpt the face of Donald Trump on an iceberg in the Arctic, or Antarctica, and watch it melt in the warm rays and days of global warming. See the news here and here and here. It’s been on over 10,000 news sites on over 25 languages.
But will this art event ever happen, and even if it does happen, will it accomplish anything other than to give people around the world a chuckle and a smile?
I spoke with Nicolas Pietro, one of the trio who are running this project, and he told me some of the backstory.
Nicolas explained to curious readers around the world why his family name sounds like a Spanish name rather than a Finnish name.
“My name is Spanish because my father comes from Galicia, Spain thus making me Spanish. too. But my mother is from Finland and I was born and raised in Helsinki. I am 37 years old, and will be 38 in the fall.”
“The idea for this project is ours (that is me, Nicolas and my two friends here in Helsinki, Jarno and Aleksi). In the beginning of our project, we tried to co-operate with a couple of NGOs, but in the end we just didn’t come to terms with them. But we just couldn’t let go of the idea and decided to try it out ourselves. We set up a non-profit organization, ‘Melting Ice,’ and decided to do this on our own. The international media interest has been amazing.”
“Our short term goal at the moment after all this international publicity [with over 1,000 internet news links in over 25 languages, from CNN to the BBC] is to hopefully get funding and then to build the ice monument. Our long term goal is to spark a global conversation about climate change and create global talk about the complex issues of climate change.”
When asked about the background of the three people running the project, Nicolas, Jarno and Aleksi, and if they were doing this as climate activists, Nicolas explained that they are not climate activists.
“Our background is in communications, art and marketing,” he said. This is an important point which the global media, in its rush to get the news story out, neglected to mention or research. So to repeat for all your journalists out there, from Charles Digges at Bellona to CNN reporters, the trio are not climate activists. They are very savvy PR an marketing guys with a strong interest in art and communications. Their media outreach has been amazing and they already proved they are a very strong marketing team!
CNN reporter Cyril Varnier got it wrong here, writing ”A Finnish climate change group wants to create a kind of Mount Rushmore but made of ice and they’re calling it Project Trumpmore.” But they are not a climate change group. They are not climate activists.
CNN, please note, the group is not a climate change group, but a communications, art and marketing trio of three young men with a cool idea.
By the way, here is a news story that contains a short video interview, and in it you can see Nicolas speaking to a reporter in Helsinki and Anssi Kuosan an ice carver at work for a press demonstration.
Harvard-trained reporter Charles Digges wrote:
”While these rising temperatures will – *if* the Melting Ice project is successful – melt Trump’s frozen bust, reversing the disastrous impact of his irresponsible policies will take considerably longer.”
A Finnish arts and marketing group of three young men in their 30s has come up with a novel way of getting the US President Donald Trump to feel the pain of global warming: Melt his face!
”Not literally, of course. But the arts and marketing group, which is called ”Melting Ice,” is looking to raise nearly US$500,000 with the goal of carving a 35-meter likeness of Trump into a giant piece of ice, and then watching it slowly melt as an illustration to the US President and his followers that climate change is, in fact, real.
Climate change ”messaging” is up for debate, and British scholar George Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network in the UK and author of “Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change” writes that most climate actions such as the “Trumpmore” melting ice face project set up by three public performance artists in Finland end up only preaching to the choir, that is to say the liberal, leftist choir that likely already believes in climate change, rather than convincing conservatives or climate change deniers otherwise.
So the Finland project, cute and surreal as it is, runs the risk of both cementing existing views on the right and the left and making many people disengage from climate change.So do ditch the Finnish Trumpmore ice project entirely, or keep waiting for it to really happen?
Most of us recognize that climate change is real, and yet we do nothing to stop it. What is this psychological mechanism that allows us to know something is true but act as if it is not? George Marshall’s search for the answers brings him face to face with Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and the activists of the Texas Tea Party; the world’s leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals. What he discovered is that our values, assumptions, and prejudices can take on lives of their own, gaining authority as they are shared, dividing people in their wake.
With engaging stories and drawing on years of his own research, Marshall argues that the answers do not lie in the things that make us different and drive us apart, but rather in what we all share: how our human brains are wired-our evolutionary origins, our perceptions of threats, our cognitive blindspots, our love of storytelling, our fear of death, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. Once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change, for it is not an impossible problem. Rather, it is one we can halt if we can make it our common purpose and common ground. Silence and inaction are the most persuasive of narratives, so we need to change the story.
In the end, Marshall’s ”Don’t Even Think About It” is both about climate change and about the qualities that make us human and how we can grow as we deal with the greatest challenge we have ever faced.
George Marshall is the founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network, based in Oxford UK, and over the past 25 years has worked at all levels of the environmental movement including senior positions for Greenpeace US and the Rainforest Foundation. He is one of the leading European experts in climate change communications, is a lead advisor to the Welsh Government, and counts major environmental organizations, politicians, faith groups, businesses, and trades unions among his clients. He lives in Wales. His website is here.
Marshall is neither fatalistic nor idealistic about our chances of survival. Yes, he says, we’re wired to ignore climate change. But we’re also wired to do something about it.
But will the Finnish Melt Ice Trumpmore project doing anything about climate change? And will it ever happen?
George Marshall is one of the most interesting, challenging and original thinkers on the psychology of our collective climate denial. If his advice were heeded, we might just have the courage to look unblinkingly at this existential crisis, and then to act.
Remember this: Curious, empathetic, compassionate: What we should be as human beings.