Artists set sail for Marshall Islands hoping for Climate wake-up call

Cape Farewell team in Wotho Atoll, Marshall Islands, (Photo: Cape Farewell/Facebook)

A group of artists will set sail for the remote Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean hoping their trip through one of the world’s most vulnerable regions will draw attention to the impact of climate change and rising sea levels.

Organised by Cape Farewell, a cultural programme founded by artist David Buckland in 2001 to raise climate awareness, the 12-day trip will explore through art and scientific study how global warming threatens the way of life for the islands’ inhabitants.

The group plans to make a three-minute film each day during the expedition. A book and museum exhibition are also planned on their return.

The trip – the group’s ninth major expedition – comes after data showed global temperatures have risen to their highest on record both on land and at sea, and as extreme heat and flooding events around the world highlight the reality of climate change.

“I think it’s been a huge wake up call. It’s come home that this is serious,” Buckland said of the recent climate extremes.

The 30-strong team – 20 international members and 10 young local artists – will embark on a 450 nautical mile Kõmij Mour Ijin “Our Life Is Here” voyage, sailing through the atolls of the Marshalls, where rising sea levels are projected to put 96% of the capital Majuro at risk of frequent flooding, according to a World Bank study.

For Buckland, the scale of the climate disruption will be visible even before he begins – his journey to the starting line will take him through Hawaii, where recently wildfires have claimed the lives of at least 53 people. “Am I optimistic? I thought when I started this that we just have to get it going and in five, ten years’ time there was a path to fix it … and 23 years later, I’m still going banging on the drum,” he said.