How to inhabit the ends of the world?
The end of the world does not take place once but rather over and over again in numerous manners over the period of time that the universe has existed in the chaotic cosmos. These ends of the world are more often than not categorised as mass extinctions, of which five are already in our knowledge. The recurrence of these “end of the world” events point to a definitive aspect of the conversation around extinction if not more – the end is merely a beginning of a new era, a new thought… a new inhabitation. This study focuses on the ideas of correlations between the ends and the beginnings of the world with the story having not one but two protagonists from two different places facing polar opposite problems due to the same core problem. The two protagonists meet at Höfn, Iceland where they are met with three more individuals who become part of their conversation around the problem at hand, each with their own posture of how to best tackle the problem.
Ástvaldsson J.P. (2019, August 21) Land Rising Due to Melting Glaciers Available at: https://www.icelandreview.com/news/land-rising-due-to-melting-glaciers/ (Accessed 21st February, 2023)
In a small island community called Hofn, strange occurrences begin to take place. As the glaciers that pin the land down and pull the water towards the land with their gravity start melting, the once calm waters of the island’s lagoon start to churn and the earth begins to shake. As the island continues to rise, the residents are faced with new challenges and dangers. The port which was once the major economic means for the city is in danger of being eradicated as the water pulls away from the land which continues to rise. The island’s infrastructure is put to the test as the residents scramble to find ways to adapt to the new conditions.
Despite the chaos, a determined individual, Jojo, refuses to give up on his beloved island.
Francis, E. (2021, November 1). Marshall Islands, at risk of sinking, tells world leaders to take climate action. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/11/01/marshall-islands-sea-levels-cop26-tina-stege/ (Accessed 21st February, 2023)
The Marshall Islands, a string of low-lying atolls in the Pacific Ocean, are facing a dire threat as the sea levels continue to rise due to the glacial melts in Hofn. The residents of the islands, who have lived in harmony with the sea for generations, are now forced to confront the harsh reality of their rapidly disappearing homes. As the waters encroach on their land, the residents must make a difficult decision: abandon their ancestral homes and way of life, or find a way to save their islands from the rising tide.
Much like Hofn, one individual, Nory, is committed to fight for her home, using her traditional knowledge of the sea and innovative technologies to come up with a plan to save her islands.
- Jojo – A grandfather and fisherman passionate about preserving the oceans from Hofn
- Nory – A young 22 year old female farmer exploring new ways towards regenerative farming in Marshall Islands
- Greta – Environmental Activist
- Daniel – Climatologist – Expert in Planetary boundaries concerning climate change
- Mark – UN representative – Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Action
Watson G. (2020) TravelBlog-Iceland Day 11- Glacier Lagoon to Hofn. Available at: https://fotospot.co.uk/holidays/2020-iceland/iceland-day-11-glacier-lagoon-to-hofn/ (Accessed 21st February, 2023)
(With her mind unable to rest and slow down, Nory decides to travel to Hofn to meet her grandfather, Jojo, in hopes that seeing him will help her gain perspective and calm her down. Little did she know her determination would introduce her to a group of people with the same fire in them.
On the other side, at Hofn, we find Jojo sitting in his boat, fishing, feeling the calm of the sea and all that he is familiar with and drowns his mind in the peace of the moment. Just as he is in a deep moment of tranquillity, his peaceful silence is broken by a ruckus at the port, and he decides, unwillingly, to go see what this is all about.
As he gets off of his little boat, Jojo is surprised to see his granddaughter, Nory, but instantly sees that she is worried about something. Jojo decides to take her to the place that gives him his strength, the foothills of the glacial beasts in his hometown, in hopes that it will calm down Nory.)
Jojo: Has the Marshall Islands drowned completely if you’re here?
Nory: Ha ha, very funny old man!! Laugh while you can before Hofn turns into a mountain and you can no longer fish!
Jojo: Getting snarkier than grandpa I see, but remember it’s not all laughs and jokes.
Nory: What could you possibly mean?
Jojo: Once these beautiful glacial giants…
(Jojo points at the glaciers behind them)
Jojo: …gave us stability, now we’ve ruined it and the water is moving away from us.
Nory: Look at you philosophical as always!!! But….wait…..could it be?….
Jojo: What’s going on in that head of yours child?
Nory: It could be… It might be… OH MY GOD!!
Jojo: Say it already before you kill me with this anticipation!!!
Nory: Grandpa we fucked up! While the glaciers are moving water away from your land – they’re drowning mine!!! SHIIITT!!
Jojo: Child! I ought to wash your mouth with some soap!….But you turned out smarter than I thought. I think you’re onto something huge though, it never really occurred to me that two completely opposite scenarios that contradict each other can actually be linked together….
Nory: Why didn’t we see this earlier?…..How the hell could we be so blind?…..so stupidly and enormously oblivious to the planet…
Jojo: Not everyone realises that the world is one giant organism feeling and….
(Jojo and Nory pause their conversation as they spot a group of people walking towards the glaciers and see they are viciously arguing about something…. not paying much attention to them, the two continue..)
Jojo: Where was I….
Nory: You were trying to put a philosophical twist to what I said…
Jojo: Oh I would remember what I was saying if only these people stop being so obnoxiously loud!….Who are they anyways?!.. What the hell do they want?
Daniel: These obnoxious people are trying to save the planet old man!! Something you wouldn’t understand from your small world.
Jojo: Try us Mr expensive suit and we just might blow your minds away
Doran T., A Drop In The Ocean, CNN Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2022/04/world/climate-sea-level-rise-iceland-marshall-islands-cmd-intl/ (Accessed 21st February, 2023)
(Just as our two protagonists find out that their problems are not isolated but are connected at the very deepest ends by one common factor, ”Jojo’s strength”, the glacial beasts…..the conversation is interrupted by an announcement of the arrival of a delegation.
The right time and the right place, Jojo and Nory are unknowingly about to become part of the most important conversation of our time. They meet Greta – an activist, Daniel – a climatologist, and Mark – a UN representative, all experts in various aspects of climate change, all here to find out how to solve the root cause of the world’s problems, all with a different point of view…)
Daniel: “Virtually everything that can be said about the climate crisis becomes, ipso facto, anachronistic, out of step; and everything that can be done about it is necessarily too little, too late.” We’re running out of time and if we have to do something it has to be now or we may lose the planet.
Greta: “The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced.
Daniel: How can it be both??
Greta: The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.”
Mark: “The truth is that, if there were to be any hope of dealing with this fact in time, ordinary people would have had to have confidence in its solidity very early on, in order to push politicians to act before it was too late.”
(Jojo smashes his whiskey glass as he stands up to point to Mark)
Jojo: Where were you when we were making all the noise?? The ice is melting, the land is moving, the oceans are warmer. What political agenda do you want to enact on our world now??
Mark: Calm down calm down, we’re here now.. we’re trying to fix it.
Jojo: This is all because of your “obsessional denial of climate change. Because of this denial, ordinary people have had to cope within a fog of disinformation, without anyone ever telling them that the project of modernising the planet was over and done with, and that a regime change was inevitable.”
Mark: No no no, you have it all wrong my friend, “the solution for global warming resides not in the restriction but the liberation of economic activity and technological development.
(An infuriated Daniel interjects the already heated discussion)
Daniel: You talk about ordinary people, you talk about technological developments, I’m a climatologist, I’ve been putting pressure high up on the chain and look where it’s gotten us now. What techy developments could you possibly come up with??
Mark: All I’m saying is “Instead of scaling down, we need to scale up even more, produce, innovate, grow, and prosper, so we can finally bring that abundance to those who are presently excluded from it. In other words: we must let the cake rise before we can share it, and we should even accelerate its rise.”
Greta: “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Nory: You talk about scaling up? The problem is already global. The glaciers melting here, are drowning my home halfway across the world. How much more scaled up do you want it to be? Is it not enough or do you want it to eat up the entire universe?
Jojo: In my 80 years of life on this planet, I’ve spent 70 of them fishing. It is only in the past few years that the ocean, even in this cold land feels warmer now…. huh….The earth is protesting….
Daniel: The relic is onto something crucial. The movement of the sea creatures mixes the warmer water with the colder waters below and the way we are over fishing and trying to justify the killing of marine life is interfering with this natural process.
Jojo: I’ve spent my whole life fishing…the ocean is my world…what could your books have taught you that the ocean didn’t teach me?…it’s not about the act of fishing, it’s about how you fish in the modern world with (pointing at mark) Mr Techy’s tools…
Daniel: ”The bottom line, the oceans and the life within it play a much bigger role in climate than we ever expected. And it turns out that the life in the oceans is absolutely crucial for holding on to carbon and preventing it from being released to the atmosphere.”
Nory: Life in the oceans is vital and as important as it is to understand its impact on global climate, it is crucial to understand that farming has played a major role in carbon emissions as well.
Daniel: “There’s a tendency right now for us to be at war with carbon. ‘Carbon’s the bad guy.’ And I think this is a lost opportunity. Carbon’s the good guy. We’re carbon. I’m 16 percent carbon, and all of it came from eating vegetation and things that eat vegetation.”
Nory: As a farmer I completely agree, carbon is the good guy “Plants use sunlight as energy, and they pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, they turn it into a carbon fuel, and that’s how they grow. But 40 percent of that carbon fuel, they send down to their roots.
Greta: It’s absolutely marvellous “soil has the unique ability to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere. That’s a big deal. And what’s even more amazing: the soil contains an entire universe of life.”
Nory: They’re leaking it out in a very strategic way to soil microorganisms. Plants are feeding soil microorganisms carbon, and they are bringing plants mineral nutrients, make habitats in the soil and control the flow of air and water in the soil,”
Doran T., A Drop In The Ocean, CNN Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2022/04/world/climate-sea-level-rise-iceland-marshall-islands-cmd-intl/ (Accessed 21st February, 2023)
Greta: Mother Earth and all its systems are far too complex and far too mind boggling, in a very amazing manner, for us to comprehend them to their full capacity. The ecosystem cures itself if we leave it alone and we need to stop intervening.
Jojo: Now that you speak of the ecosystems, “There is real hope here because marine ecosystems bounce back so quickly if they’re allowed to. You would see the reefs coming back, you would see these incredible shoals of fish returning, you would see the whales returning to our coast. This is within our grasp. We can do this.”
Daniel: So now the relic sees things the way I do? Do you see what I meant about fishing? But even if we stop intervening with nature we’ve pushed it to a tipping point. It is at a point where we might not be able to turn back, even if we stop emissions, the carbon that still exists will be warming the atmosphere for decades if not centuries.
Mark: “It is not a matter of how to repair, but rather of how to live in the same world, share the same culture, face up to the same stakes, perceive a landscape that can be explored in concert.”
Greta: Enough of your bullshit!! “We demand change, and we are the change.”
Nory: We need to reduce atmospheric carbon, we need drawdown. “You cannot achieve drawdown without bio sequestration /sekesteraşin/. Bio sequestration is using plants, trees, perennials, and techniques of grazing and farming to capture carbon and store it in the sink of the soil, and retain it for decades, if not centuries.”
Mark: “Putting our atmospheric carbon down into our soil may be a simple idea, but to do it on a global scale requires… politics. And when it comes to the politics of climate change, well, let’s just say… there’s a lot of hot air.”
Greta: I SAID ENOUGH!! “We can no longer let the people in power decide what is politically possible.”
Jojo: It’s not the people in power but we can see all around us that individuals have managed to create a healthy environment all on their own.
Daniel: Have you heard about something called desertification? It’s when “Healthy soils absorb water and carbon dioxide. But when we destroy soil, it releases water and carbon dioxide. This dries out the soil and turns it into dust. And how we deal with it could determine the fate of more than just our climate.”
Mark: Yes, I agree that some individuals are making small impacts of change but real hope comes from policy change, not these little games you all are talking about
Greta: “We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is. Hope is not passive. Hope is not blah, blah, blah. Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action. And hope always comes from the people.”
Nory: We can already see this all around us where individuals are stepping up to solve these problems. Today we keep animals in feedlots which create massive amounts of greenhouse gases. In Africa, they managed to create a grazing farm where data showed these gases were actually sequestered.
Jojo: Interesting… so “The problem isn’t the animal. The problem is where the animals are at. When used smartly, herbivores can pull down carbon and reverse desertification. But it doesn’t just work for Africa. It works everywhere in the world.”
Daniel: Not just when it comes to animals and how we keep them but “Spraying the soil with toxic chemicals kills the very microbes we need to give us health, and pull the carbon from the atmosphere. The more tilling that’s done, the weaker the soil gets, and the more farmers feel compelled to use chemical sprays. This is the vicious cycle of industrial agriculture.”
Nory: All of this comes together to create massive stresses on mother Earth. “What I tell people is, your body can handle acute stresses, but it cannot handle chronic stresses. The soil ecosystem is the same way. If you keep dumping the fungicides, you keep dumping the herbicide, you keep dumping the insecticide, you keep doing the tillage… chronic stress. It doesn’t function anymore.”
Daniel: But you see child, even with these solutions this is merely one planetary boundary we are talking about, the oceans are a vast entity and they also comprise another boundary that we are in the danger zone for. If we want to see real change we need to tackle the marine boundary as well.
Greta: We need to make sure that we tackle these issues on a global scale not just in isolation of one or the other boundary but as a complete ecosystem because that is what the planet is, a giant ecosystem, and it needs to be treated as such.
Jojo: “The prospects for marine recovery, for rewilding, are incredibly exciting, but it can only happen if very large areas of sea are closed to commercial fishing.”
Daniel: “Many, uh, researchers feel that we should be at about 30% of our oceans being protected. But, in reality, we’re at 5% now of marine protected areas. But that’s misleading because over 90% of those areas still allow fishing. So in reality, less than 1% of all of our oceans are being regulated.”
Jojo: What is essential to the marine ecosystem bouncing back is “maintaining the integrity of ocean systems. I mean, these big animals, even the little ones, they take up carbon. They sequester carbon when they sink to the bottom of the ocean. The ocean is the biggest carbon sink on the planet.”
Daniel: Also, do you know “When dolphins and whales return to the surface to breathe, they fertilise tiny marine plants in the ocean called phytoplankton, which every year absorb four times the amount of carbon dioxide than the Amazon rainforest does, and generates up to 85% of the oxygen we breathe.”
Jojo: ARE YOU SERIOUS?!
Daniel: Yes Sir, the ocean is the biggest carbon sink, with all the creatures that live in it, from the smallest corals to the largest whales. But sadly, we are destroying this magnificent sink and no one is talking about it.
Nory: But from what you are saying I see that there is still hope. We need to put a stop to commercial fishing and let the natural habitat of the ocean take its course to heal itself. We managed to destroy the fish but at least we haven’t caused damage to the marine habitat.
Jojo: Oh child, you surely do not know the extent human greed has gone to. The most effective way of commercial fishing nowadays is trawling. It’s done with huge nets that can swallow entire cathedrals that drag heavy weights at the bottom and scar the entire seafloor leaving nothing but a barren wasteland.
Daniel: Deforestation in the Amazon results in losing 25 million acres a year, but with trawling we lose 3.9 billion acres every year, “this is equivalent to wiping out the land area of Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Iran, Thailand, and Australia combined.” in all 15 countries, DO YOU THINK IT’S A JOKE HUH?
Greta: “So in a world concerned with carbon and climate change, protecting these animals means protecting the entire planet. The way I see it is if dolphins and whales die, the ocean dies. And if the ocean dies, so do we.” “From the smallest microbes to the largest creatures, our blue planet pulses with life. For millions of years, it has self-healed and self-balanced. But, today, our species faces its biggest test. Our mission is simple. We must harness the regenerative power of Earth itself.”
Mark: But all the solutions you are presenting are small solutions and are nowhere near to create a big impact. We need to have access to more advanced technologies, technologies that quite frankly are just not available today if we want to tackle these problems and actually make a difference.
Greta: “All the solutions are obviously not available within today’s societies. Nor do we have the time to wait for new technological solutions to become available to start drastically reducing our emissions. So, of course, the transition isn’t going to be easy. It will be hard. And unless we start facing this now together, with all cards on the table, we won’t be able to solve this in time.”
(n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from https://www.expedia.com/Hofn.dx7236?pwaDialog=gallery-open (Accessed 21st February, 2023).
(After hours of discussion the group begins to disperse in a rather anticlimactic way)
Mark: We can keep talking about this for years and never do anything so lets just go back to our lives and get dinner, where can I get some food! I’m famished.
Daniel: No one is going to do shit about it today so let’s just get up and get some beers!
(Jojo looks at Nory’s disappointed face)
Jojo: Come child, we don’t need them to fix our world, we knew this before, we know this now even more, whatever we have to do we have to do it ourselves. These fancy suits just whore around these talks to gain their two seconds of fame. Come on kid, we got this!
(They all bid farewell to each other and the mighty glacial beasts of the island. All but Greta take their leave. And after much silence, she leaves with a few words, words echoing in the foothills even today.)
Greta: This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
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The Beginning of an End is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Masters in Advanced Architecture in 2022/2023 by students: Perniyal Waseem, Neslihan Gulhan, Gizem Demirkiram< Preetam Prabhakar and Divya Shah, and faculty: Manuel Gausa, Jordi Vivaldi