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Issue Date: August 2011

Think Globally

An art installation on display here through Sept. 11 puts a new spin on the global warming debate.
Kelly Petryszyn

Wendy Abrams used to look at global warming as an issue that should be left to the people in Washington, D.C. Then, in 2001, she read a Time magazine article cautioning that the Earth's temperature could rise so much within the next century it would render much of the planet uninhabitable. Even the remote possibility that this could happen in the lifetime of her 1-year-old twins was enough to stir Abrams to action.

"I had a moment of realization: Shame on me for not doing anything," she says.

In search of answers, the Chicago resident flew to New York City to talk to a scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund.

She walked away from it wanting to make the public and our nation's leaders aware that global warming can be reversed, so she started Cool Globes, a nonprofit organization that commissions artists to portray one way to combat global warming on 5-foot- diameter globes. The resulting public art installation is currently displayed along Wade Oval Drive in conjunction with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's Climate Change exhibit and will remain until Sept. 11. "I want people to realize that this is a problem, and we can solve it," Abrams says.

One of the globes featured in the installation is Chicago-based artist Thom Cicchelli's Spin Dry: Drawing a line on global warming, which offers a vision of a world in which people save energy by using the old-fashioned clothesline (above). "What we're saying is, 'Take it out of your dryer, and put it in your yard,' " Cicchelli explains.

Abrams says she can see little signs that the exhibit is sparking lifestyle changes.

"People stop me and say, 'I took my son to the exhibit, and now I wash my laundry in cold water or take mass transit,' " she says. "Everybody can do something."

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