Archive for April, 2013

Earth Day ice sculpture debrief

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Earth Day Sunday 21 April temperatures were not high (max 57 F, 14 C) despite full sun all day. I was down to a T-shirt for 1/10th the day.

While we were not permitted to use black carbon, the erosion of the ice sculpture by the sunlight and dark grey chalk we were sprinkling on it exceeded my expectations.

While we were not permitted to use black carbon, the erosion of the ice sculpture by the sunlight and dark grey chalk we were sprinkling on it exceeded my expectations.

We were working the crowd, having one-on-one (or two) conversations and getting $5-$20 pledges from half of the folk, entirely within reason. It was interesting to see some folks’ interest change to vacancy once the description turned to an ask for $. It was exhausting giving the “elevator pitch” over and over and over. It was hard to not let rejection get to you, especially as the day wore on and the fatigue grew. My favorite pseudo-rejection experience was pitching to three very wealthy looking foreigners, really nice clothing, accessories; they listened with apparent interest and when I asked for $ support, they nodded… I got five dollars.

What did not happen and I cannot be surprised is some wealthy person pledging $1000 or so. We had I think two $100 donations another two $50 pledges but I think these were from friends. What I learned from this was it’s hard work getting donations using the “elevator pitch” on the street to innocent bystanders. Who likes getting asked for money by a stranger?

For the day, we netted ~$1200, in line with my expectations. The mGive text donation may add up to more but I doubt another $1200. We spent far more on the installation and yet more of the investment was time. I’m not discouraged because I would not be surprised that the visibility from this event evolves into more support as time goes on.

I guess at least 5000 people stopped and looked at the sculpture. Many of them took photos and I hope that they shared those with their social network. Thus, the Dark Snow Brand gains traction.

I think we had no doubt the most interesting installation at the Earth Day event, also what people told us. The green car show next to us was a formidable competitor.

Have an ice Earth Day!

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Laying awake at 4 AM in a New York City hotel thinking on tomorrow’s Earth Day, and its theme: sea level rise. We’re installing a 4 ton ice sculpture at Union Square. Its characters #DARKSNOW sprawl 40 feet. It’s height is the sea level rise reasonable to expect this century, 5 feet (1.5 m). It’s to be sprinkled with soot symbolizing the effects of increasing wildfire and industrial pollution.

The sculpture was produced at cost by Stan (The Ice Man) from upstate New York. He is one of now dozens of people spending their free time to contribute to this Earth Day something of memory, something to inspire, and this is a fundraiser for a Greenland expedition I’m organizing for this June.

We aim to sample Greenland’s ice in key areas to measure how much of the record 2012 melt is attributable to wildfire soot absorbing more sunlight, multiplying the effect of warming.

I had worked the previous years publishing an article, live June 2012, just prior to this “surprising” melt. Well, the 100% surface melting wasn’t that surprising because as the paper predicted warmth had only to remain at the 2010 or 2011 level… “Thus, it is reasonable to expect 100% melt area over the ice sheet within another similar decade of warming”

June 2012 was already emblazoned in my memory, the fires of my home state were at record level. I had been focused on the effects of heat driving melt.  But now, the soot factor had to be incorporated into the calculation, adding another layer of precision and complexity.

An intermediate step was to examine atmospheric laser scans from NASA’s CALIPSO satellite. That search quickly revealed smoke clouds drifting over and apparently in contact with the ice sheet surface.

The ice sculpture work is by Stan the Ice Man. That's me Jason Box in the lower right advertising the stickers that supports get with a $25 donation at and at the Earth Day event. The ancient Greenlandic-inspired glacier glasses are going to donors at the NY event who give at the $400 level. The glasses are also available at but are discounted for the Earth Day event.

The ice sculpture is a metaphor for the connection between human agency, ice and climate, linked with sea level rise, fire and ice.  The sculpture is instead of another chart or table of data or thousand page scientific assessment.

The underlying message is the need to work toward harmony between humans and the environment upon which we depend.

To make the Greenland expedition happen, to move the science forward together, we’re asking you in the US to “Txt DARKSNOW to 50555 to pledge $10. Supporters will get a response asking to share that they have pitched in, to their social network. With just another few clicks, the fund raising can have some virality.

Or consider giving through our web site.

Incidentally, I had to go back and make corrections…The voice recognition I increasingly use in lieu of typing translates Earth Day as “birthday”. And why not celebrate the Earth’s birthday?

Have an ice Earth Day!