The Colours of Climate Change

Following the Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change is despite Covid-19 not forgotten. More so, the last is seen by scientists, managers and experts as an omen what we can expect when we keep disrupting the Earth ecosystem. Goal 13 is Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. This goal has 5 targets:

  • Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
  • Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.
  • Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible.
  • Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities.

My personal expression of climate change is displayed above. I imagined the canvas of our world as a chess board with 8*8 fields and estimated the most hurt ecosystems due to change: coral reef (Pantone Living Coral ) and tropical rainforest (Pantone Forest Biome). Government (Pantone Imperial Blue) is a tiny spot on the canvas and is not doing too much with many public leaders which are still in denial of what is happening (why? Interest and stakes!). Government, steered by people we as citizens elect to be our representatives (how difficult can it be!), need to take the lead. But, to be frank, its influence anno 2020 can not be marked as substantial. Storm (Pantone Storm Gray) is coming. 

It is a personal art impression – or maybe better an expression of an impression – to remind me that we will loose precious life if we continue this way. The myriad of life is so abundant in coral reeds and tropical rainforests, we can hardly imagine. If you have seen it, and understood, you fall in love immediately. And if this happens you want to protect and want to stay it forever. I am in love, still (it is actually since 1978, the year I met Professor Roelof Oldeman and with him discovered the forest, almost 32 years now).

I am a realist, not a pessimist. I hear you thinking. I did my homework (daily) as Wageningen University ecologist. Believe me, storm is coming, if we keep sitting on our hands. Maybe this small expression is a small contribution to one of the targets of this sustainable development goal. The colours of climate change are printed in my mind.

The Bodmer Oak, Fontainebleau Forest

Monet, C. (1865) The Bodmer Oak, Fontainebleau Forest [Oil on canvas]. New York City: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By Jack P. Kruf

The subtitle of this masterpiece could have been inspiration. It influenced me during the years of study and exploration. It is painted by impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926) in the year 1865. According Plant Curator there is a strong possibility this tree is of the species Quercus petraea (Mattuschka) Lieblein (Sessile Oak, Chêne sessile, Wintereik, Traubeneiche), an emblematic tree of the french forest. The Bodmer Oak was named after Swiss artist Karl Bodmer (1809–1893), who exhibited his painting of a tree in the heart of Fontainebleau Forest, La Forêt en Hiver, 15 years earlier at the Salon of 1850. The painting of Monet is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Monet used bright yellows, greens, and oranges to depict sunlight filtering through the canopy of branches. The carpet of russet leaves signals that he painted this view just before he concluded a months-long visit to Fontainebleau in October 1865 (Source: MetMuseum.org). What makes this painting so special for me that I feel I actually am standing in the middle of the forest, at the same level as the tree, at the same spot within the wide forest. It connects.

The secrets of the forest always intrigued me but the interest was ignited by Professor dr. ir. Roelof A.A. Oldeman (emeritus). As professor Silviculture and Forest ecology at Wageningen University, he taught me how to read the complexity of the forest, to understand its core elements and processes. and find beauty in its own laboratory of design.

“The forest tells its own story, listen!”

Roelof A.A. Oldeman

From him I learned how to diagnose in a wider and holistic perspective while keeping connected with individual trees. He taught me to reflect on the forest as a system – an ecosystem – leading to (some) understanding in the years following of the bigger picture of life, of people and society. It created an almost sabbatical view on life. The scientific reflection of Oldeman worked as a catharsis and offered new hope, possibilities to understand and re-create. The wisdom of ecologist John Muir became clearer and clearer for me during the years: 

“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”

John Muir