A Fatalist Heads to The Arctic Packing Hope
CIIS MFA Graduate Andrea Lynn on sound waves, the climate crisis, and traveling to the Arctic Circle for an artist residency.
In my dreams I wear a white lab coat; a fatalist writer turned citizen scientist, I am on my way to the Arctic to conduct research.
The United Nations Emissions Gap Report 2019 released on November 26th used the word bleak in its summarized findings. As a fatalist, I tend to lose sight of hope, especially after reading the latest failures of countries to stop the growth in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
And yet, fortified with the vast resources, philosophies, and perspectives I gained from my integral education at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), I am going to the Arctic because I am driven to do whatever I can.
I am trying to figure out how to use sound waves for fuel — the vibrations that create the waves replacing coolants.
I am going to the Arctic this summer to learn how to teach refrigerators to sing. In June, I embark. A tall ship — a majestic barquentine that has been sailing the frigid, ice-strewn waters since 1957, will keep me safe if not warm in its steel belly.
Thanks to my acceptance into, and the incredible support of The Arctic Circle, an artist and scientist led expeditionary residency program, I plan to become a scientist during this adventure. I’m asking a lot of myself; I’m a writer by trade but there’s a lot to be done should humans have any hope.
Marrying the scientific method to my work in literary arts, I embark on a quest to determine if it is possible to utilize waves to teach refrigerators to sing, so to speak, in order to reduce the detrimental super greenhouse gases refrigerants emit, and, I hypothesize, to lift the world’s happiness as measured on the “World Happiness Report,” produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, by muting and transforming mechanical noise.
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that it is possible to locate peace through mindfulness even if you are immersed in a noise-polluted environment. I admire the great teacher’s resolve, and I believe he has led many into this sort of peace.
I, however, remain skeptical. The sound waves, unless one has transcended, still penetrate the human body; cells respond. So as everyday people go about their everyday lives in the midst of noise, the underlying unrest must persist. I lie awake at night doodling about machines that derive the energy they need to accomplish their jobs for humans from sound waves.
Even if I could successfully meditate myself into a sense of inner peace amidst the remains of the industrial revolution, I think it might be selfish: to go about focused on self and my own peace when the Earth is burning? Maybe if the whole of humanity meditated on peace the planet could be saved through a collective consciousness.
I’m not convinced that’s possible in this moment. I am taking action.
And it seems remedial to attempt to find clean energy solutions to satiate humanity’s gulping appetite for power, without addressing humanity’s despair.
This is the intersection of scientific inquiry and my artistic pursuits, and I believe I am capable to explore this realm thanks to my time as a student at CIIS. The institute not only asks you to open new windows into your artistic inquiry but demands that you also throw open the doors to unknown disciplines that may alongside aide your investigations.
Although curiosity and concern fuel my absurd confidence in this moment, I realize what I don’t understand and relish the chance to make new friends who are physicists. Economists would be invaluable, too. What devastations await if we crash out of fossil fuel dependence and consumerism as we try to save our Earth home?
If my fingers don’t freeze, though unlikely in the Arctic summertime due to global warming, and if the polar bears keep their distances, though driven by the desolate state of their shrinking ice habitats to seek food on land near humans, I’ll be writing about my Arctic adventures from the tall ship.