Climate and Art: Timescales and Extreme Events


Andrew Kruczkiewicz & Pablo Suarez (International Research Institute for Climate and Society / Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre)  


The success of climate risk management, or any type of risk management, hinges on linking knowledge with action. Regrettably, there are many reasons why organizations fail to turn available risk information into successful decisions to act. Acting on the assumption that people and organizations are rational actors, the majority of resources associated with the development of climate risk management systems are dedicated to technical aspects (such as data accuracy, timely access, decision support systems). The volition to act (or not) is controlled by deeper layers of perception and understanding of risk; layers related to trust, emotions and motivations.

Evidence shows that better outcomes, relative to risk management systems that link knowledge to action, are achieved by embedding information in participatory processes that engage our deeper senses. Music and art has been used for generations to influence people’s understanding and behavior, from commercial jingles that trigger shopping impulses, to brass marches that mobilize soldiers so they want to go to war.

The notion of climate as art will be explored through a mixed media format consisting of abstract audio and visual forms. Pulsations, striations, hesitation and uncertainty; each will be probed in this piece involving both recorded and live artistic forms.


This piece will be a continuation in a series of presentations with the first in the Netherlands in September 2016, the second in Geneva in December 2016. For the first time, the performance will feature live music.

Conversely, in consideration of risks associated with climate and weather, entities equally ubiquitous as music, there is a much less ubiquitous emotional response. Like music, risks are dynamic; similarly characterized by crescendos and diminuendos, harmonies and dissonances, calls and responses, tensions and resolutions, anticipation and surprise. But, in contrast to music, analytically rigorous climate data offers to people and organizations much less potential to resonate with patterns and emotions, and ultimately, less chance for motivating action. This exploration of the relation-ship of climate and music will be presented here as first, a device to convey the differences between weather and climate across various timescales. Next, we outline the first steps towards development of a new, more emotionally-pegged, modality to communicate climate to incite humanitarian preparedness action.


Andrew Kruczkiewicz: Andrew is interested in the role of satellites and remote sensing technology for sector-specific applications. This includes developing algorithms to detect and map spatial and temporal patterns of precipitation, temperature and other climatic variables and analyzing their impact on agriculture and public health. He is also interested in the intersection of the social and physical sciences, especially pertaining to the integration of remote sensing into early warning systems for extreme events such as floods, storm surge from tropical cyclones, wildfires and landslides. At the IRI, Kruczkiewicz is part of the Environmental Monitoring Program and aids in the development and integration of environmental remote sensing products into early warning systems for human health, agriculture and natural disasters. For the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate, he is holds the position of Science Advisor, specializing in flood risk management and exploring innovative approaches to communicate climate risk. He is also a drummer.

Pablo Suarez: Pablo got involved with the Climate Centre as a technical adviser in 2005. He now directs our initiatives linking applied knowledge with humanitarian work, as well as new approaches to climate risk management.
Examples include participatory games for learning and dialogue, and the forecast-based financing pilots in Togo and Uganda – the use forecasts of extreme events to trigger disbursement of funds for action before a disaster occurs, reducing avoidable losses. Pablo holds a first degree in water engineering, a master’s in community planning and development, and a PhD in geography.

He has advised humanitarian and development organizations in more than 50 countries, and also researches and teaches at University of Lugano, University College London, and Boston University.

Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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