Art has often created the space for thought provoking discussions on tremendously difficult topics. Glass production and glass as art are no different, especially considering the challenges of climate change we are facing today. In fact, we believe that glass art production represents a mirror image of the damages we have collectively inflicted upon the landscape. It also has taken important steps toward improvement, modeling like so many other entities, a path forward.
From its early history of clearing forests to fuel glassblowing furnaces, then using coal, to transitioning to the present day use of natural gas and electricity drawn from hydropower (predominately built on major salmon producing rivers) — these glass art pieces mirror the evolution of our impacts across the landscape.
And Salmon School embodies the need to begin shifting those practices and the associated harm — pulling together scientists and communities, creating climate friendly solutions, and growing our technological capacity to make energy efficient improvements.
Salmon School also reflects the many reasons we need to take real action today. Making hard choices means taking leaps forward and making the investments necessary to implement the climate solutions necessary for ecosystems across the world.
This project used both recycled and batched glass. But we fully recognize that glass production is energy intensive. It is an industrial process, and in that way this sculpture raises the important question of where energy sources are coming from and what actions are being taken to improve their efficiency, to eliminate the use of fossil fuels as an energy source, and the need to address current energy producing impacts — such as the impacts of hydropower on salmon and salmon ecosystems.
This installation's life cycle energy consumption produces about 38 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, equal to the emissions of four households over one year in the United Kingdom. The glass was made over 4.5 years, echoing the lifecycle of salmon. The majority of emissions come from transporting the glass for exhibition.
To offset these emissions, Salmon School has invested in a tree planting program on the river Tweed. Five hundred meters (545 yards) of riverbank will be planted in the spring of 2022, using native species to improve conditions for juvenile salmon.
The tree planting project we are supporting does not negate our collective need to take deeper action on all climate fronts today.
Be a part of it.