The New York City Metronome digital clock in Manhattan that would normally show the time, has been reprogrammed to show the critical window within which global warming must be stopped. The display, called The Climate Clock, now indicates the Earth’s deadline, beyond which the damage to the climate will be irreversible. The artists behind the project say that they have based their timing on calculations by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin.
The Metronome was reprogrammed on Saturday and started ticking second by second, creating a sense of urgency in addressing global warming. For the past 20 years, the Metronome clock that faces Union Square in Manhattan has been one of the city’s prominent artistic projects. Due to its influence on the city, the minds behind the project thought it would be the ideal way of sharing the critical message of global warming.
On Saturday at 3:20 pm, messages began appearing on the clock. They read, “The Earth has a deadline,” among other notes to passersby. The messages then vanished to reveal a set of numbers (7:103:15:40:07, to be precise).
Golan explained right before the countdown began, “This is our way to shout that number from the rooftops. The world is literally counting on us.” For him and Boyd, this innovation to the installation is a way to present the “critical window for action to prevent the effects of global warming from becoming irreversible,” part of their new ecologically sensitive mission. Metronome has thus been renamed The Climate Clock. It will be on display on the 14th Street building, One Union Square South, from now until September 27, which marks the end of Climate Week.
The idea for the project came to Golan shortly after his daughter was born, about two years ago. He pulled Boyd, an activist, onboard to bring his idea to life. Together, they have previously made a handheld climate clock for Greta Thunberg, the young teen responsible for the Fridays for Future climate strikes. The duo’s goal is to raise awareness about the urgency of climate action. Taking inspiration from the Doomsday Clock, maintained online by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and by the National Debt Clock near Bryant Park in Manhattan, the artists believed their Climate Clock would have the most impact if it were displayed like artwork in a “conspicuous public space.” Stephen Ross, the chairman of Related Companies, the developer that owns One Union Square South, affirmed in a statement, “The Climate Clock will remind the world every day just how perilously close we are to the brink. This initiative will encourage everybody to join us in fighting for the future of our planet.”