Letters to the Earth

The Letters to the Earth project has gathered contributions from citizens acclaimed and obscure. In their letters they’ve expressed their fears and dreams to our home and host planet in a time of rapid extinction rates and climate breakdown.

Letters to the Earth

Mine, written in snatched moments during a busy week, was short but nonetheless personal. I’ve included it further down this post.

I first heard about Culture Declares Emergency‘s call-out for Letters to the Earth through the Museum of Liverpool.

On 12th April, alongside other earthlings, I read out my letter at the museum’s own Letters to the Earth event, one of many up and down the country.

And in the past week, some letters from the national pool have also featured at the International Rebellion events in London.

Why culture?

Why should a cultural focus help us address ecosystem collapse? According to Culture Declares Emergency,
Culture convenes – culture gives space to articulate our place and survival in the web of life
Culture renews and transforms – the arts have a tradition of sparking cultural change and ‘speaking differently’
Culture builds capacities for action – culture energises people’s courage and capacities
Culture lets us learn – a more viable future can be reimagined.
Culture is broadly defined here. It includes all of these:
  • arts
  • design
  • museums 
  • heritage 
  • archives and libraries
  • intangible heritage
  • creative industries
  • learning & education
  • well-being and participatory practice.

I’ve served as a writer, editor or researcher in many of these sectors. I’m also a member of ClimateCultures, where artists, researchers and curators ‘discuss and demonstrate how arts and culture help us to make sense of our changing climate, and the possibilities our imaginative responses can offer’.

All this is to say that I believe in the power of words and imagination to spark changes of heart and behaviour, and that’s why I do what I do for a living in 2019, when there’s no time to waste.

And it’s also why I wrote my own little Letter to the Earth and shared it…

Letter to the Earth

Dear Earth,

I am in awe of you. I can barely grasp all your beauties – a worldful.

And I am in awe of your killing power, too – your volcanos, your hurricanes, your viruses.

But on balance, left to yourself, you breed life.

You give us all we need. It’s down to us to trace your laws and do as they demand – share the harvest, with humans poor and grand, and other earthlings.

Instead, some of us have denuded and polluted you devotedly, pulled out the linchpins of your systems and unleashed a foolish experiment.

Serial exploiters-in-chief have led this charge – self-advancing chancers, crafting crisis out of technological advances, while too many trail behind, dazed and consuming on command.

We’ve left a planetary fever in our wake, and chances are we’ll break first.

There is no ‘away’ on Earth, is there? Your round body is our compulsory philosophy class, and we are flunking the practical.

I don’t want the human project to end. We have not done our best yet.

Our best might yet keep us alive.

I know you can’t hear me, Earth. But I’m listening for the answers.

Yours entirely,

An earthling