OCEAN ARTic Journal 29/VII/21

I have been focusing on the data for late December, and into January of the model year. We previously identified that there was a curious impact on the air pressure patterns at lower latitudes resulting from reduced ice in the Arctic. Visually, it looks dramatically unstable, with the model year casting wild inversions against what all the control data suggests should be happening at that time in Northern Europe. This inversion and seemingly unstable air pressure was observed to alter cyclonic flows, and push the storm track further south. This alteration to the storm track is broadly understood to be a major trigger for the extreme swings of weather conditions in the summer months. In 2021, we have seen both searing heatwaves and fatal flooding episodes across Europe.

It is a curious sensation to sit with the data on the screen in graph form whilst looking at online news footage of flooded cities, interspersed with the emergence of ‘heat risk’ alerts, whilst locations as diverse as Canada and the Middle East register the first instances of urban heat episodes that are too extreme to sustain life.

I am looking at the cause and I am looking at the consequence, and it is beyond comprehension that the situation should continue with only the subtlest suggestions of changes to our collective behaviour.

But then there was the further revelation resulting from my musical sketching. I envisaged a short work around this data for two string players and electronics. One player would play the melodic line from the control data, whilst the other played the resulting air pressure values resulting from the reduction in ice. I envisaged this second melodic line to careen up and down the scale, ever further out of harmonic alignment with the control data.

But no. Regardless of how I calibrate the scaling to encourage more movement across 2, 3 even 4 octaves, the overall arrangement remains, somehow, balanced, in harmony, self contained.

Then it occurred to me. Our survival is sustainable only within a tiny range of possible variables on this planet. If the balance is disturbed by only a small number of degrees across a reasonable period of time, we die. It is that simple. And, now, it is that clear. The harmony of the planet, as we can come to represent it within our system, remains true, sweet and clear. Our passing, ultimately, will mean little, and a gentle adjustment, naturally occurring here or there, subsequent to our extinction, will resolve into a new balance, barely discernible from the old one. We mean this little. We exist in the thinnest seam of matter. Yet this fragility is the one thing we never praise, worship, fear, or strive to safeguard above all other things.

So, despite my best intention to present this air pressure anomaly as something nearing hysteria, it will now present as a patient, harmonically sweet passage. A high voice. A low voice. A swapping of the highs and lows between players. The message remains either hidden, or deliberately unheard.