The Birth of Venus painting flooded

Four years ago, Bill McKibben wrote an essay for Grist in which he suggested we were in serious need of art about climate change. “Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas?” he asked.

Since then, much has happened. Books and films have emerged, photographs and performances, ballads and raps, even art exhibits devoted to the topic. And then, of course, there’s An Inconvenient Truth, which, in addition to reaching audiences through a book, a movie and yes, even an opera, essentially made “climate change” part of our everyday lexicon.

Some attempts at climate art are more effective than others. (We’re talking to you, Miley.) But it all adds up to an increasing cultural awareness of the crisis at hand.

Art reminds us of what’s at stake, helps us fully comprehend the issues, and teaches us how to adapt. But perhaps most important of all, art can inspire us to act.

It is in this spirit that we present this special series on art in a changing climate.

In it, we feature a follow-up essay from McKibben and introduce some of the artists answering his call for climate art. We highlight specific projects via multimedia — including an audio interview with artist Chris Jordan, an audio slideshow from the “Facing Climate Change” project, and a photo series on performance art. We explore some of the best (and worst) music to come out of the movement and look at the ways the music industry is working toward a smaller footprint. And finally, we suggest a tour of green art museums, online exhibits, and other resources.