No Planet B
September 2–December 10, 2022
The science is clear: humans are rapidly altering our planet’s natural environment in ways that threaten the ability of our species and other species to survive and thrive in future generations. The most serious environmental problems we face include climate change and global warming; ocean acidification and sea level rise; industrial pollution and plastic contamination; and biodiversity loss and species extinctions.
To address these problems, we must first acknowledge their existence and understand their causes. Then we must explore and adopt the most effective solutions for reversing or mitigating them. These solutions will require us to change some of our customary ways of thinking and behaving, both at the individual and societal levels. The changes will not be easy, but they must be made and made quickly or the problems will continue to intensify and the solutions will become even more difficult to achieve. To borrow a catchphrase popularized by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, there is no plan B for solving our environmental problems because there is no planet B.
The scientific and technological knowledge needed to solve most of our world’s environmental problems already exists. Now we must find the right combination of political, economic, social and cultural incentives that will convince people to act on that knowledge. Art has a potentially important role to play in this process, serving both to warn us about the dangers we face while also inspiring us to envision a better future. The artworks in this exhibition are drawn primarily from the Kruizenga Art Museum’s permanent collection. They were selected to provide historical context for understanding our current environmental problems and to illustrate some potential solutions. The ultimate goal of the exhibition is to help us move past the commonly experienced feelings of denial and despair and recognize that we have the power to solve our environmental problems and become more faithful stewards of our planetary home.
Image: Bazaar: Fight Air Pollution. George Stowe Jr. (American). 1970. Offset lithograph. Hope College Collection, 2020.73