Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day to you

If everyone on earth jumped up in the air at the same exact moment, would the planet be knocked out of its orbit? If half a billion people threw away one plastic beverage bottle today, what would happen? While the first question is entirely theoretical, the second one is a daily reality. While each of us consumes and disposes without suffering much in the way of consequences, what is the cumulative effect of all our actions? Does it even make a difference?

Chris Jordan (no relation) is a photographer in Seattle who has taken on the mantle of exposing the breadth and depth of America’s consumerism. In his series entitled Running the Numbers, Chris created massive photographic murals to illuminate the scale of our country’s consumption. One million plastic cups are arranged to illustrate the number of such items used on commercial airline flights every six hours. Thirty thousand reams of office paper are stacked to show what is used every fifteen minutes. From Chris Jordan’s artist statement:

The pervasiveness of our consumerism holds a seductive kind of mob mentality. Collectively we are committing a vast and unsustainable act of taking, but we each are anonymous and no one is in charge or accountable for the consequences. I fear that in this process we are doing irreparable harm to our planet and to our individual spirits.

Whether you agree with Chris' sentiment or not, his work does impress by its sheer size. And it provides food for thought.

Chris Jordan's Web site and gallery.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

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