Art Installation Warns New Yorkers of Perils of Climate Change

The ‘Climate Signals’ signs are dotted around New York City
The ‘Climate Signals’ signs are dotted around New York City | © Stuart Faith / The Climate Museum
Photo of Peter Ward
Tech Editor11 September 2018

A new set of highway signs have appeared in New York, reminding those in the city about the issues that will arise from climate change.

New Yorkers are getting a very visible reminder of the perils of climate change, as a series of flashing highway signs spelling out warnings have been placed throughout the city.

The Climate Museum teamed up with a number of partners, including the New York City mayor’s office, to place the signs around the city as part of artist Justin Brice Guariglia’s Climate Signals project. Ten large solar-powered signs, that display messages such as “Climate denial kills” and “Climate change at work,” now dot locations in each of New York City’s five boroughs, including areas that are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Signs in neighborhoods with diverse populations also feature messages in languages commonly spoken in that area.

The signs give key warnings about climate change and are solar powered | © Amanda Nesci / The Climate Museum

Sign locations include Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Yankee Pier on Governors Island. The installation will be in New York until November 6.

New York is a city surrounded by water, making it more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. A 2017 study by a group of climate scientists revealed that New Yorkers can expect increased flooding in the next couple of decades. In the past, floods of nearly 7.5ft (2.3m) happened only a couple of times per millennium. Today, the same sized floods are projected to occur every 25 years. By 2030, these floods will come every five years.

New York’s most recent major flooding was during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which brought 10-11ft (3m) floods to large parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, killing 43 people.

If New Yorkers want to avoid this type of disaster becoming a regular occurrence, they’d best heed the signs, both figuratively and in the case of Climate Signals, quite literally.

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