Thursday, August 16, 2007

If you love global warming vote for me

In today's Independent, Nick Welsh notes that the six new candidates running for City Council are all motivated in part by their opposition to lightblueline. While the idea that all six of them will need to keep up the rhetoric all the way through the election is curiously encouraging--the whole point of public art is to get people talking--such a platform is more of a plank.

The City is spending zero dollars on lightblueline, a fact all of them knew before they filed. Lightblueline is a temporary art project, and will, in any case, be gone before the next council term is up. Maybe they don't like art. They could, of course, run against the Santa Barbra Museum of Art, a much more visible, durable opponent. They could argue that a science center would be a better use of the space.

But then again, by opposing lightblueline they are also running against the science of climate change. They have joined forces with what Newsweek called "the denial machine." This means they have to spend the next three months attacking the science that NASA and NOAA and the world's top science organizations, including UCSB, consider to be the best science available. That should lead to some interesting interviews, and more conversations. Perhaps the Art Museum could be turned into flat-Earth science center.

This is the year that the US Government (the Bush Administration is hosting a summit in September on reducing greenhouse gas emissions), including the House and the Senate, and the California governor and legislature, and Santa Barbara City have all adopted measures to reduce greenhouse gases in response to the threat of human-induced climate change. Stopping climate change is a long-term sustainability issue for all coastal cities. A fitting backdrop for these six, these brave contrarians, to step up and actually support climate change, or at least support the continuing lack of public awareness of climate change. And the platform-turned-plank gets longer still.

They have a strategy. They claim a few gallons of paint decorating the city streets for a few years might lead to property value changes. Of course they don't accept the logic of their own argument: if it lowers values on one side of the line it must raise values on the other side--and guess which side has much more property? This means that art will accomplish what floods, mudslides, fires, and earthquake and tsunami risk have failed to do. Such a narrow plank to stand on.

Of course they do have a so-called newspaper on their side. A newspaper that managed to misrepresent the lightblueline project from its first "news" coverage and subsequent editorial rants. Fortunately there are a lot of other sources for news in Santa Barbara. And all of these other news sources are going to be asking real questions about the candidates and their positions. So, over the next three months we can all watch them walk the plank.

NOTE: Bob Hansen would have run anyhow, art or no art.

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