Le climat, à la manière de...

Climate Tipping Points through the “eyes” of the Masters: a virtual art exhibition

We are running out of time in fighting the effects of climate change. With the greenhouse gasses emissions steady, the planet is reaching warming levels that could cause some large ecosystems to tip in different states. A tipping point in the climate system refers to a threshold beyond which a small change in a particular variable can cause a significant and potentially irreversible change in the overall climate. These points can be found in various parts of the Earth’s climate system, such as the polar ice caps, oceans, and forests. Crossing a tipping point can lead to runaway warming, sea level rise, and other devastating impacts. While climate scientists are currently working to identify and understand these tipping points in order to better predict and mitigate the effects of climate change, their existence was basically unknown up to a few decades ago and therefore ignored by the most famous artists of the modern times.

It’s fascinating to imagine how some of the world’s most renowned painters, who are no longer with us, would have depicted the pressing issue of climate change tipping points. Would Van Gogh have captured the melting Arctic ice in a series of swirling blues and whites? Would Monet have focused on the changing colors of the seasons in a landscape affected by a shifting climate? I have asked Dall-E to perform the task: results are beautiful and inspiring.

One thing is certain, these master painters would have used their art to convey the emotions and complexities of the climate crisis in a way that words alone cannot. A gallery exhibition of their imagined works on this subject is therefore a powerful and thought-provoking experience. I hope that this gallery has brought the issue of climate change to life in a new way and has inspired me and you, the visitors of this gallery, to take action to protect our planet.


Davide Faranda is a researcher in physics at the CNRS. He is an expert of weather extreme events such as cold spells, heatwaves, cyclones and severe thunderstorms. His research activity focuses on the attribution of extreme events to climate change, that is understanding how much greenhouse gases influence the occurrence of extremes.

Le climat, à la manière de...