top of page

Invisible Current

Somehow, the word "暗流", which means invisible current or undercurrent, popped into my mind when I was watching the video I made in workshop collaboration.

Nonetheless, it was not simply a blank word that occurred reasonlessly at that time node because I just had read and watched news that revealing the dark side of the society. For example, the 39 bodies found in the back of the truck in Grays and the unresolved teachers' maltreatment issue in Yuzhang School. It also reminded me of the climate change, the action of Greta Thunberg and how did Trump and Putin respond. The complexity behind a matter or a phenomenon may be far beyond our imagination.


Based on the experience gained from the first unit, I intend to conceive the outcome and do the relevant research simultaneously, so one side could quickly respond to the deficiency of another. As I am following the climate change issue and the corporal punishment of Yuzhang School, I plan to make this project as a series of continual development of topics. Firstly, I want to give a full-stop to the first project that how to express ideas in the work based on the supporting ideas from John Berger's Ways of Seeing. Secondly, I want to focus on the social problems I have mentioned above, to analyze the relevant factors that caused them and they will result in.

First of all, I used the mindmap to sum up what I had done in the first unit and tried to plan the new project, finding the connections between them.

Stage 0

As I am at the beginning of the project, I arranged the relevant activities that I had taken part in as Stage 0. Each of them is giving me some ideas which could support me in the following stages.

Chepstow Trip


I had a three-day trip to the Chepstow with my friends to collect resources for excavating the climate change crisis. We were trying to figure out a way of resolving this issue by using the implication of the indigenous folk culture. Firstly, we had a discussion of the climate crisis and the living circumstance of us. One said that Capitalism is one of the fundamental reasons which exacerbate the issue because it leads us to form an unsatisfied psychological status l. Nonetheless, this kind of living style had been inherited for generations, that already fixed to the society, pervading the desire of consuming and teaching people to be selfish. Another one mentioned about the organic products in the market. The human being is a part of nature. Ironically, urban people are advocating them as fresh and high-end goods, which seems like they have detached from nature.

Green man

The hosteler of where we lived, Mick, he believed in the tale of Greenman. Mick was a tattooist, he drew many pictures of the green man and also printed them on the T-shirt. The idea of the green man really appealed us because the form of folklore was a form can easily convey something to the mass and the green man, as a mysterious creature, a spiritual belief, can generate great power in people's mind.


The low pitch of the organ profoundly touched my soul while the sound constantly echoing in the St. Mary's Church. That was a kind of invisible energy, a vibration that unifying everything in the church at that moment.

This experience broadened my sight of thinking about the climate issue. Everyone possessed a distinct point of view that can help me to develop the research in stage 2 easier.

Picturing Invisible

On the 7th and 8th of November, I joined the conference which the scholars from a wide range of disciplines including art and design, architecture, curatorial practice, literature, forensic science, medical science, psychoanalysis & psychotherapy, philosophy, and astrophysics, interpreted their expression of invisible or unknown based on their discipline. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear different people to share their understanding of the invisible from various perspectives. Meanwhile, it was a good chance to know the artists who their ideas are relating to corresponding disciplines. I was very inspired by the talks and found that were some common experience sharing across disciplines, such as Roger Kneebone's mentioned about the "touch", the unique physical experience that only can be perceived personally in the actual surgery, this feeling I think can apply in the way of looking at artworks as well.


Yu-chen Wang

Carey Young (Missing Mass)

Tomas Saraceno

Louise Bourgeois, Precious Liquid (1992), The Reticent Child (2004)

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #315 (1995)

Paul Coldwell, Room Bed and Light Bulb (2019)

Vija Celmins, Night Sky #4 (1992)

Georgina Houghton, Spiritual Crown of Mrs. A.A Watts [Anne Mary Howitt] (1867)

Hilma af Klint, The Ten Largest, No.1, Childhood (1907)

Emma Kunz, Work No.012 (no date)

Ways of Seeing

Tutor Group Trip

12th of November

National Gallery

Jennie asked us to find one (or more) painting that we thought appealing in the National Gallery. It was my first time to visit this gallery, as for me, I was not very interested in the classical paintings because most of them are easy to read into their meaning. It reminded me of Greenberg's essay about kitsch and avant-garde while I was viewing the paintings. I thought they were similar to the "kitsch" which Greenberg determined, though they were produced before the industrial revolution. From these paintings, everyone can find stories or events in them, because they were realistic and connecting to our common experience.

Back to the piece that I found, it was simply a portrait of a young princess and as the description stated who and when she was painted. However, I was profoundly surprised the artists painted a frame behind the princess, which coincidentally corresponded to the actual frame outside the painting, and they formed space between them as if the princess was vividly standing in front of the audience through a window. In addition, the green background created a contrast effect with the red wallpaper.


Honey-Suckle Company: Omnibus

1. Title unknown

I like the colour of the work which was the same as the wall paint. Meanwhile, I was thinking about the expression of the work. The artist laid the photographs and some other materials on the board and seemed like trying to compose a description of something based on the connection of them. As for me, I did not really agree on this way because it complicated the idea, people except the artist would be passive to pull all these pieces of information together.

2. Materia Prima. (2007). [Wood, plaster, white paint].

The work created a great atmosphere when the audience was situated in it.

3. Rainbow Press Page 4, (2019). [Plinth, ceramic, flat-screen monitor, glass, video].

This work used Pepper's ghost to play the video was interesting.

4-7. Eaude. (2005/6). [Framed silver gelatin photographs].

These series of photographs reminded me of Eikoh Hosoe's works. The stories in these monotonous pictures were mysterious as the scenes in the folklores. Evoking me the feeling of the ghost, which all these things were ephemeral, seemed like they are going to vanish from this world in the next second.

8. Honey-Suckle Company and Konrad Sprenger Ohn End. (2005). Non Est Hic. (2006). Fabric, metal, HyperSonic speakers

The hypersonic speakers created the sound like the flies circling around your head, but could not find where it came from. That was very impressive.

The Vinyl Factory

Other Spaces

The artists using light, sound, and movement to create amazing effects. The first one was several lights swaying in the air with a distant sound as if UFOs hovering above our heads. Following the movement of the lights, to me, they created hypnotic feeling. The second one was a monitor beaming out lights that constructed lines on an almost transparent screen, accompanying with the electronic sound. For the third one, the work visualised the voice of different animals to express natural sounds and rhythm.

Everything At Once

In the shop, I found a book about an exhibition that had happened before, called "Everything At Once". In that book, I found some artists and articles that were worthy to take a further look at.


Lee Ufan

Shirazeh Houshiary

Tatsuo Miyajima

Ceal Floyer

Dan Graham

Allora & Calzadilla



Electronic Souls

Art and Technology


In the discussion with the theory tutor, Ben helped me to clarify me idea based on the mindmap I made. For the mindmap itself, he thought it is good to plan out things, but I need to leave space for which I have not imagined. For Stage 1's work, I wanted to make a sculpture based on a drawing I did years ago, which expresses the intricate life that numerous things interleaved together. He thought logic will be introduced within a planned work. For Stage 2, he suggested me to find the relation among the events that I am interested in, instead of condensing all of them together. For instance, the climate change crisis, we cannot explain all the details in a work but can reveal the facts and bring them into the work. Ben encouraged me to make something out first because that can bring up some new ideas.


Mark Leckey

Keith Tyson (1990s art machine, interviews, early documentation)

Sean Dower (sound produces drawing, go to visit LG London)

Hito Steyerl

(essay, Apophenia, the temptation to read images that are not there, a sea of data)

Stage 1

At Stage 1, I am going to do some experiments to test the possible way of realising my idea. Meanwhile, I will start to retrospect the artists that I noted above, research them and trying to find inspirational concepts and materials.


I plan to make a sculpture based on the idea of my previous drawing without concerning any academic research. Therefore, I scheduled the experiment before artist research which can help me focus on the original idea.

On account of I need to convert a drawing to a three-dimensional sculpture, an important point is finding a way that can easily build up a linear structure. Firstly, I think modeling in the computer might be a good way, but the time of practicing before make it is hard to estimate. Secondly, I imagine if I can draw the shapes on paper and cut them out then stick them together might be a possible way. However, in the end, I find people who used a 3D printing pen to make sculptures on the website which seems like an achievable way. Therefore, I decide to make the prototype with it.


To create layers, I used the backside of the canvas which perfectly allowed me to set depth. The whole process was quite fun and I found several points in this experiment.

  1. The 3D printing pen only could extrude a thin plastic string, so I just could slowly fill the surface.

  2. The material took a couple of seconds to be solidified and stayed flexible before that. Hence, the string was difficult to control the shape and usually left small gaps between lines. It helped to create a feeling of waves, though it also made the work looks a bit rough.

  3. The pen was continuously extruding the string so I had to keep making patterns and shapes without stopping. Sometimes this character messed the shape with uncontrolled lines.

Recalling Ben's words, I think it might be a kind of randomness, that the shapes I made were unplanned. Frankly, I did not imagine what it would look like in the end because I had no idea how did the material works. I just followed my feeling of adding or moving the parts step by step.

Artist Research List

I summed up the artists that I had heard since the beginning of this project into a list. My plan was to google them to see whether their works generated vibe to me, then filter the list and focus on some of them.

Carey Young

Missing Mass. (2010).

[5,461 dark matter particles present in open-top perspex container, on plinth with text].

Contracting Universe. (2010). [Digital image on adhesive vinyl, with bench].

Tomas Saraceno

Sundial for Spatial Echoes. (2019). Weimar: Bauhaus-Museum

Gravitational Waves. (2017).

[Polyester rope]. Hasselt: Kattevennen for Z33 House for Contemporary Art

Vija Celmins

Night Sky #18. (1998). [Charcoal on paper]. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland

Web #1. (1999). [Charcoal on paper]. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland

Lee Ufan

Shirazeh Houshiary

Keith Tyson

Sean Dower

Hito Steyerl

Stage 1.5

Accidentally, I got the inspiration from the trip of Chepstow. Somehow, I clearly know what I want to do in Stage 2. Therefore, I decide to work on this part primarily. My idea was basically aiming at the environmental issue and its globe effect. I planned to research this topic in artworks and theory at the same time.

Group Crit

The group crit was very inspirational. Jennie and Ionna gave me a brand new viewpoint to scrutinise the topic, invisible current. With reflecting on the mindmap I did, they suggested to me if the map itself could be a kind of work. Corresponding to the topic, the mind flow is also something invisible on the surface of the outcome but can be demonstrated by the methods like a mindmap. Therefore, at the end of this project, I can try to integrate every mindmap I have done, as a way for the audiences to really engage with my work's development.

Secondly, in the crit, I explained my idea of Stage 2 to peers, which effectively helped me to arrange my thought. As Jennie said, the whole project is trying to transfer the definition of the invisible current from the waves to sociological one that affects everyone unconsciously.

After the crit, I plan to draw some drafts of the outcome which has already shown in my mind for the next week's open studio.

Artist Research

Theory Research


For gaining a general understanding of global warming, I chose to read through Wikipedia. The global warming problem came to international public attention in the late 1980s. To be noteworthy, the definitions of "climate change" and "global warming" are actually different. Climate change is including the latter one as a general phenomenon affecting the Earth. For global warming, it is about how human activities cause a rise in temperature.

Influence on nature

Greenhouse gas causes the rise of temperature, which threatens the ice cap in the polar area. The ice melt into water and due to the melting process absorbs heat, therefore the temperature of the polar area would rapidly decrease and severely influence the ecosystem around there. In the other parts of the Earth, rising sea level would submerge the island country and increasing temperature aggravates the situation of desertification. Meanwhile, these two factors lead to increased precipitation which causes more frequent extreme weather. Excessive CO2 emission into the atmosphere gives pressure to the ocean, absorbing too much CO2 causes acidification that kills coral reefs and also acid rain. In addition, CO2 would exacerbate the growth of crops, such as wheat and maize, which reduce the nutrition of them.

Different opinions apart from "human activity theory"

Through the annual statistic reports of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the experts deduced that human activities are very likely the causes of climate change. However, we still cannot conclude this yet. There are many other theories holding different opinions. Wikipedia mentioned several voices:

  1. The temperature still remains in the natural range.

  2. Rising temperature is the omen of the Little Ice Age.

  3. The reason for rising temperature is the change of solar radiation and the adjustment of cloud cover.

Professor Naomi Oreskes listed six different categories, which are "explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position", based on 928 papers. 25% of them are about methods or paleoclimate analysis that not relating to the anthropogenic climate change. None of them disagreed with the consensus of the problem of human activity.


Greta Thunberg

The story of Greta Thunberg, as well as the extinction rebellion that just happened a couple of months ago, were inspired me at the beginning of this project. Before starting the research, the information I knew about her is the leader of school striking in Sweden and how did national leaders comment. I am really interested in the meaning behind her figure and it would be a great perspective to analyze climate change through her action.

The Complex Prospect of Global Climate Change Movement:

A Renewable Energy Perspective

The study of Greta Thunberg was mainly based on Lijin Zhou's article, which generally analyzed the social attitudes regarding Greta's action and specifically talked about the controversial points of her standpoint.

Social Attitude

Zhou classified the social reflection of Greta's action as supporting and opposing, which respectively correspond to the sociality and practicalness of these two starting points.

People who viewed this matter from the former point are prioritizing social equality and social justice. They centered on the public's demands and wanted to solve the problem based on that and believed social advocacy and social awareness can stimulate participatory action and social reflection which can drive the production of solutions.

As for the latter opinion, they were more preferring to the pragmatist way, placing the realisable solutions and techniques at the top rank. They believed the social consciousness will be formed naturally since the problem has been solved.

Zhou stated that these two opinions were actually not in the binary opposition; instead, they could cooperate to work out a solution because their aim is identical.

Greta's Blind Spots

As a little girl who is living in a nordic country, it is totally understandable that she may have not anticipated, and perhaps, that is the reason the national leader appreciated her courage but denies her thought.

Social Demands and Propositions Differ, Due to Countries' Different Development Levels

In Zhou's analysis, the first point that Greta did not see is that countries over the world were in different stages of development with disparate social demands. The closer to the polar area, the more obvious to see the influence of climate change. Therefore, people who are living in countries like Sweden and Norway, they could easily observe how fast the ice is melting down. Hence, the governments of these countries as well as the people have taken many methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as changing the energy system and carrying out corresponding policies. However, there are several premises which allowed them to do so. Initially, the Nordic countries are very developed, there is no severe social fragmentation among these societies because they have high welfare, a small difference between social classes, high average education level, not troubled by food or clothing, has higher demands and etc.. Secondly, they do not have a huge population, which is more likely to reach the consensus of a goal. Their solution is very unlikely to be applicable even if in developed countries like the United States because social structure and public demands are different.

What about developing or least developed countries? As for agriculture, most of the population in Africa and India are still troubled by malnutrition while food production is decreasing and threatening to the next 20 to 30 years. The energy, it is also too early to talk about renewable energy to them because they have not obtained a stable supply of traditional energy yet. In addition, the situation in Africa and India also differs. In 2009's UN Climate Change Conference, the representative of G77, Lumumba Di-Aping had said that the 2 Celsius degree target was certain death for Africa because the climate and environment of Africa would not endure the increasing 2 Celsius degree and they cannot do anything to change it if it really happens.

The Complex Connection of Energy and Environment with Different Social Groups

Zhou pointed out that the challenge of climate change is actually the challenge of energy. To address the climate issue, humankind will inevitably demand a revolution of energy. However, either this revolution or climate change is a topic that too broad to talk about because it relates to everyone in the world. Whatever the steps that the governments take will doubtlessly affect people's profit. Ignoring for the energy revolution and just focusing on climate change first. Since the late 1980s when this topic had drawn the international attention, people had started to argue whether human activity was the main reason of it. Some politicians and businessmen have been revealed to disguise the truth for protecting their profits. Therefore, what about the future when the energy revolution will affect everyone's profit? To speak out a slogan of new energy is simple, but the status of different social groups and countries may be impacted profoundly when the revolution comes true.

The Revolution of Energy and Material

Zhou further introduced the revolution she mentioned above based on her knowledge of renewable energy. In her explanation, there are basically two main causes of climate change, energy, and material. Nowadays, 80% of global energy supply is relying on traditional fossil fuel. The support of economy and policy is indispensable for reducing this amount or the technical difficulties will be very hard to conquer. As we cannot ignore the importance of the profit, if the cost of exploitation and application of new energy can be lower than the traditional ones, more and more people would naturally join the group of advocating new energy.

Nevertheless, the problem of new material will be tougher than energy because so many crucial materials that we are broadly using derived from the cracking of crude oil, such as plastic products, synthetic rubber, clothes, glasses, and asphalt. As a result, the time of resolving this problem may be much longer than the previous one.

Finally, there are conflict points between the energy revolution and environmental protection. Zhou stated that there were explicit differences between new energy and renewable energy. The mainstream of new energy is nuclear energy. However, it is still nonrenewable energy with many safety problems. As for renewable energy, there are disadvantages as well. For example, producing the facilities of renewable energy may generate pollution and the cost of equipment maintenance would be high.

The Complication of the Political Meaning Behind Greta's Social Image

Since Greta's influence has spread to the world, the social meaning behind this name becomes more complicated. People around the world are keeping an eye on her words and actions. The resources of this section are mentioned in Zhou's article as well as the other comments.

Speech in the UN’s Climate Action Summit

In the article, Zhou questioned why Trump did not be invited to have a speech instead of Greta? The political status behind the chosen speaker was very clear, the candidates' ideas should correspond to the motif of the United Nations. On 23rd September, Greta Thunberg gave a speech that condemned the adult's regardlessness of environmental conditions. From the perspective that just mentioned, we may see more connotative information behind the words of Greta, as a girl and a leading role of an environmental activist. I highlighted down some points in her speech:

  1. All you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth

  2. The risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control

  3. (1.5 Celsius degree) do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice

  4. Remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years

Among these four points, I am believing the last three which talked about the environment are pretty objective, but I have not looked into the connection between climate change and economic growth before. Therefore, I want to look into this question to see how people reflect on this point.

Eternal Economic Growth

The first one is pretty obvious that she was alluding to some politicians and economists. To verify the reliability of her words and finding out the connection between economic growth, I read three articles with different standing points to answer my doubt. The first one was Jeremy Warner's Greta Thunberg is wrong: economic growth is friend to the environment, not foe, which posted on the Telegraph for objecting Greta's speech.

In the article, Jeremy emphasised the importance of economic growth which was the main power of promoting the development of new technology and innovation as well as figuring out the solution to climate change. In his opinion, Greta and her followers are demonising the economic growth that had been utilized for political agenda. Meanwhile, he stated that economic degrowth only could bring a short-term recovery of emissions and he worried it will be with the country forever. In the end, for pushing the UK's economic growth, his solution was changing the production structure for boosting productivity.

The second article I chose the one against Jeremy's idea, by Christopher F. Jones, published on The New Public, called The Delusion and Danger of Infinite Economic Growth. This article mainly focused on analysing the development of the current economic structure. The author discussed the connection between natural and economic systems which mentioned economists like Adam Smith, they believed the economic growth was finite because of the limitation of land, resource and the law of diminishing marginal returns. Then he criticised the defect of Gross National Product (or Gross National Income) that we measure a country's prosperity and wellbeing, which trapped the governments in economic expansion.

Then Christopher discussed a lot about Robert Solow and his economic model which ignored the output of production, waste, and pollution. In addition, another thing is worth mentioning that one of the notable assumptions in his model is the development of technology. The growth of output per effective unit of labour derived from capital stock per person and technological progress and only the latter one can bring on the "eternal growth" of output per person. Somehow, it was corresponding to the opinion of Jeremy in the previous article. In the end, Christopher advised that now is the time to really face the idea of economic growth and nature are intertwined.

These two articles are kind of standing on the opposite sides. In Jeremy's article, he as the same as Robert Solow, both did not mention the output of economic growth (pollution) but advocating the positive face of it. For resolving the climate issue, his strategy was propelling productivity which can help economic growth and then find out the solution in technological progress. As for Christopher's article, he retrospected the development of the western economy and found the disproofs of eternal economic growth. However, he talked a little about how to change the situation, but he just gave a little advice.

To get a more neutral perspective of economic growth, I read the comments under Jeremy's article and surprisingly found a link of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). EEB published a report of decoupling and green growth in July 2019, titled Decoupling Debunked: Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability.

As a formal report, I did not thoroughly read all of the information because it was not my main target. I picked the abstract, introductory part and conclusion to read, and trying to link up the information within it to the rest two articles. "Green growth" as a mainstream slogan of governments to confront the environmental issue, was mainly trying to decouple the economic growth from harming the environment. However, at the beginning of the report, the writer had stated that they had not succeeded and were unlikely to succeed in their aim.

What is decoupling?

To understand the general information in this report, to know the definition of the key term, decoupling, is absolutely essential. Basically, for either coupling or decoupling, one driven and one driving variable are required. For the previous one, variables evolve in proportion; therefore, in the latter one, their tends are desynchronised.

In the context of green growth, decoupling occurs between economic growth that mainly is measured by Gross Domestic Product, which drives the environmental pressure. Hence, in the ideal state, we hope they can be in the situation of absolute (strong) decoupling, that two variables go in opposite directions. To be more specific, if it happens, we can observe a positive effect of the resource and impact decoupling, that increasing market activity by reducing the volume of resources used; and growing GDP with decreasing environmental impact. Nevertheless, the preconditions of this state including the factors of scale, magnitude, and durability. As we all know, climate change is a global and intergenerational issue, so we wish that green growth can be a global, sufficient and permanent thing. The governors attempt to carry both economic growths and environmental sustainability but no empirical evidence indicates the decoupling is happening. Sometimes things don't turn out the way we expected, since the decoupling had been the main sustainability plan of the European Commission and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2001, the absolute decoupling only observed in rather limited circumstances which cannot reverse the environmental issue at all. In this case, the report revealed the impossibility of eternal economic growth as well as carrying out both economic growth and environmental sustainability. In any way, the writers of this report thought the reasons for the impossibility were very broad. Perhaps it is a systematic problem, the insufficiency, and inappropriateness that occurred in technology, economy, policy, and recycling, which each one of them used to target to solve the problem, disrupted the whole thing.

Before discussing the conclusion, there were a couple of points I found in the report just contradicted to Jeremy's idea.

  1. As regards the attitude to economic growth, it describes GDP barely can "reflects a narrow, potentially problematic, framing of prosperity," which coincides with the analysis of GNP in Christopher's article. Therefore, it makes me doubt whether the "economic growth" that Jeremy said, is precise enough to be the solution of the current issue?

  2. The term, "Rebound effects", as one of the reasons threatening the decoupling plan, was introduced in the report, which "generate structural changes in the economy that induce higher consumption." It was very similar to the words in Jeremy's article that he expected to enhance productivity by adjusting production structure. As I compared above, both he and Robert Solow did not consider the output. Especially, the service and household consumption that he mentioned, "can only exist on top of the material economy, not instead of it." Therefore, they aggravate the problem by adding more carbon footprint to products.


After reading this report, I gained more understanding of the actual economic or political realm. It also made me puzzled and uncertain about what humans can do in the next step. This world is extremely intricated, and we have billions of people with billions of different minds on Earth. What we believe, what we think and what we do are not the same. From Greta Thunberg's speech to the opposing voices like Jeremy Warne or the supporters like Christopher F. Jones, so many things can be argued. Which one is the right to follow? What I had done? Now my mind just filling with the fog. I listed down three points in the conclusion of this report, maybe they could help me to think deeper.

The negative side of decoupling

The report describes the European politics is "lack of political creativity and ambition" because decoupling has been the main strategy for 18 years but has not, also seems will not succeed in the future.

"The decoupling strategy takes consumption levels as granted and relies on the hope that further economic growth will provide the means to (over)compensate its own environmental impact."

We can perceive this idea in Jeremy's article, economic growth as if an investment expecting to gain the solution of environmental sustainability and the cost of it are the time and environmental impact. People had waited 18 years for the positive feedback from the economic growth but obviously it did not work.

The concept of “Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) ”

The report also mentioned another concept called "shared but differentiated responsibilities", which first agreed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro,1992. Generally, this concept requires the rich countries to decouple largely and quickly enough to compensate for the ecological impacts of the poorer countries' production and consumption. However, same as the concept of absolute decoupling, it is also a fairly ideal solution to resolve the problem because the premise of realising it is very challenging. To address the climate crisis, the report wrote that the wealthiest countries may need "a direct downscaling of economic production and consumption." Is it really achievable? For me, it is so hard to imagine such a day can come into reality. Meanwhile, I totally agree with the idea that the problem is shifting, palliative solutions merely make people feel better while ignoring common-sense solutions. From which perspective to view the environmental issue shapes our opinion, things like decoupling, enhancing the productivity of the service industry or elaborately design the appearance of the truck to improve the trucking fuel efficiency, as the report wrote, "requires only minimal changes in economic and social structure." It is clear to see that the most controversial point is that the social structure is an extremely massive system, any tiny change may influence a group of people's lives, rights, and profits. If regard the world as a system, then it is constructed by numerous smaller systems and different opinions are always existing. Apart from discussing the "solutions", I think another important thing is thinking about how to change the way people look at the issue. In China, a political term "the building of a community of common destiny for mankind" gradually enters into people's horizons in recent years. In the context of the climate crisis, to advocate people to raise the awareness of “earthman" that their actions will influence the future of humankind, as well as the other species in this world, may help them to understand more about environmental protection. It does not require people to achieve any epical thing, but simply can have a momentary thought before they do something. Naturally, the responsibility as a man living on the earth will help to shape the idea of environmental awareness.

What does economic growth mean?

"What we need to decouple is not economic growth from environmental pressure but prosperity and the 'good life' from economic growth."

This sentence sobers us to re-think the meaning of "economic growth" and "good life". How they link together and do they really need to be linked profoundly excavate the core of the nowadays social structure. To discuss this phenomenon, we should place "economic growth" in different social contexts. In recent years, there is an anti-economic-growth trend in European academia and the common prerequisites of forming such a trend are because these countries are developed with intact historical accumulation and high environmental awareness but no increase in the population (or even decrease). In this circumstance, economic growth is no longer the priority of the country, people are pursuing wellbeing while enjoying high social welfare and advanced medical technology. When the importance of gaining happiness is outweighing earn more money, things that closer to their living environment are becoming prior. One clear example is who Nordic people call for and do for environmental protection (which the obvious impact of climate change is indispensable as well.) As for the people in developing and the least developed countries, economic growth seems like the pivotal thing for achieving good lives.

There are two ambiguities here. The first one is how we define the "good life." Based on the standard of developed countries, we would say that people in poorer countries do not have good lives. However, does it mean they are not happy about their current lives? There was a study of the connection between wellbeing and economic growth shows that apart from the very undeveloped countries, when the prosperity of a country has reached a certain level, the happiness will not increase in the same ratio of economic growth. Therefore, how people value whether they have a good life sometimes is subjective and not relating to the economy. I could not give a conclusion based on my general impression and this question only can be answered by those people. Another point is the divergent meaning of "good life" in these two contexts. As for people in developed countries, a good life for them should be more on the mental side. Without worrying about food and water, they require the fulfillment of their spiritual life, which lets them have more understanding and effort to resolve issues beyond concerning how to survive in a city. Looking at the people in poorer countries, "good life" for them would be physical demands. These two meanings of "good life" could be regarded as embodiments of economic growth in different stages.

Based on discussing these two ambiguities, we can see that the connection between economic growth differs due to the viewpoints. From the perspective of a society or country, to own a good life nowadays can not leave the growth of the economy because it is integrant for building the infrastructure of modern society. As for every individual or small group of people, the definition of a good life can be subjective which based on their life experience and cultural background. Besides this, I think what the author wanted to express is the worry about excessive consumption and overproduction. The consumerism behind the title of "good life" would mistake people the actual meaning of it.


The clearest idea that I perceive from the research is that nature is finite and balanced. I could see two possible ways of achieving "eternal economic growth" after hearing different people's thoughts. One idea is to broaden the scale of the service industry but in another way, it will add the consumption of resources on the goods anyway. Another idea is to plunder. Due to the resource of land is finite, a country wants to always maintain the economic growth has to concern the way of gaining more resource from the other land. Throughout history, there was numerous wars fight for resources occur all over the world even until now. Nature is balanced, no matter which way a country takes it will also affect the other. The achievement of eternal economic growth of a country may aggravate the environmental problems or slow down the other countries' development. Although I could not assert whether eternal economic growth is achievable, the thing that I know is that the economic growth of any country will have the side effects, so a key thing of balancing the development and nature is the international cooperation. However, another worry is, we can not get around the topic of benefit, wish that we will have a united view one day.

After reading and talking that much, I just found that nothing changed, I am still in a confusion of the future. What I can feel at this moment is numerous mouths are arguing ceaselessly in my mind as waves, can not hear anything clearly.

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg

How did a 15-year-old (now is 17) girl become a world-famous environmental activist? I am very curious about the beginning of her story as an activist. Therefore, through the information collected by the website, Wrong Kind of Green, I tried to have another dimension about the business connections behind her social image. I mainly picked the Ace I and Act III of Volume I, which respectively revealed the support from a tech company, We Don't Have Time, and her family background as well as how capitalism connects to today’s manufactured youth movements and why.

Act I: The Political Economy of The Non-Profit Industrial Complex

To summarise the information in an easy way, the tech company, We Don't Have Time, founded by its CEO Ingmar Rentzhog who has a close connection with climate organisations and business corporations. The company is mainly active in social media, digital advertising, and carbon offsets, so the user amount of the platform is a very crucial point for attracting investors. Three days after Greta's school strike, they published an article, This 15-year-old Girl Breaks Swedish Law for the Climate, and since her story has been exposed on the media, another thing needs to mention is that she is one of the special youth advisors and trustees of this company. Beyond this tech company, the article pointed out that the market of environmental sustainability is "a rebooting of a stagnant capitalist economy." The capitalists need a new market to create new growth for saving themselves.

Ingmar said in The Social Media To Create Social Change (Acquisition International Magazine Issue 10, 2018) that their vision is to"create a race towards environmental sustainability and CO2 neutrality, making it the core priority for businesses, politicians and organizations worldwide", the author of Act I emphasised the term "CO2 neutrality", which is different from reduction of CO2 emission, it is about the sale of carbon offset that people can buy into.

Act III: The Most Inconvenient Truth: "Capitalism Is In Danger of Falling Apart"

In this act, the two key points are the family background of Greta Thunberg, and how capitalists utilize the climate crisis and green energy revolution.

The CEO of We Don't Have Time, Ingmar Rentzhog was nominated as Sweden’s #1 Environmental Influencer of the year in 2018, though he did not mention the assistance of his company to Greta as well as the relationship with Greta's mother, Swedish opera singer and celebrity Malena Ernman, who was nominated to be WWF Environmental Hero of The Year in 2017. To be noteworthy, both of them were in the guest list of the opening gala of the climate conference in Stockholm in May 2018.

Referring to Greta, she is a girl born in privilege and wealth. Except both her parents are celebrities, her grandfather Olof Thunberg was an actor and director, and the ancestor on her father’s side, Svante Arrhenius, was the Nobel Prize winner whose discovery led to the conclusion that human-made carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming.

As for capitalism, what the world is corning is a great opportunity to save itself. The movement of green thinking, green lifestyle, as well as the green energy revolution, is "an industrial transformation on a scale that we’ve never seen before." (Sharan Burrow, general secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, B Team leader ) There is a huge economic opportunity to explore, and poor people, are becoming a social group that has been particularly focused on. The article discussed M-kopa, a Kenyan solar energy company, that mainly exploiting the market of impoverished people by selling them solar products. However, as David Rossow, a senior investment officer at the Gates Foundation said, “We don’t invest in solar at all. We care about asset-backed lending for the last mile,” what the green energy revolution brought to Africa is actually for opening a new market. In M-Kopa’s finance director and its third co-founder, Chad Larson's words, “we know that it’s important for them to keep their lights on at night, so they can be counted on to keep paying,” under the guise of green energy, the main purpose of this business is still financing.


The reality is always intricate, I could not really judge the right or wrong of a matter. For example, M-kopa as a company providing solar energy service to the African people, as a new way of debit and credit, it did allow the users can have the light in the night but also gained benefit easily form them. The only thing needs to point out is the unequal position between them. The users who heavily dependent on the electricity supplied by M-kopa, are always situated in a passive position. Society is not a fair place, the privilege just like the water stream from the peak of the mountain, spreading down sonorously and pouring into lakes and oceans where we could rarely hear their noise.

A Year of Swedish Girl Greta Thunberg

To sum up the story of Greta, I found a Chinese video that recorded the main events of her from 2018 to 2019.

This video effectively helped me to review the main events that happened in Greta's life, especially in the recent two years. Obviously, the creator of this video had the viewpoint that Greta was doing something contradictory. No matter the action of taking a sailing boat or posting the picture of seating on the car junction, it was hard to read the actual motivation of doing things like these. As the creator said in the video, "when the carbon emission in her home decreased, the world's had not," indeed Greta applied her believe by taking a boat, but is it applicable for the majority of the world? If not, then what message is sent to us from this action? Is it really effective?


Extinction Rebellion

After finishing research the information of Greta Thunberg,


Before the Flood (2016)

Before the Flood is a documentary produced by National Geography in 2016. The camera followed the steps of Leonardo DiCaprio, who just been nominated as United Nations Messenger of Peace, to understand the condition of global warming. He interviewed politicians, scientists and scholars in other disciplines around the world to see how did they think about this issue. I note down their main ideas below.

National Representatives (in documentary order)

China: Ma Jun

  • China is still heavily relying on fossil fuels

  • Seeking for the chance of transition of renewable energy

  • China is the factory of the world and much of the pollution is getting dumped in the backyards

India: Sunita Narain

  • World's 3rd largest emission country

  • Less developed countries with rapidly growing populations

  • The energy access is as much a challenge as climate change

  • 30% of households in India still do not have electricity

  • India has the world's third or fourth coal storage

  • The American government does not play a leading role

  • Poor countries and people received the biggest impact of climate change

Kiribati: Anote Tong

  • Have to accept the reality, preparing to migration

Palau: H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr.

  • Small island countries have the least influence on the environment but received the heaviest impact

Indonesia: Farwiza Farhan

  • Burn forest for Palm oil planting

  • Create a huge profit for big companies

  • Nearly every product we buy in the market contains palm oil

United States: Barack Obama

  • Most worrying about the migration issue when sea level rose

  • Resource scarcity threatens the order of the world


Atmosphere Science: Dr. Michael E. Mann

  • Some governors do not believe human activities are causing climate change

  • Big fossil fuel companies find people who willing to sell their prudential

  • Senators are bribed to hold back the acts that trying to solve the problem

Marine Ecology: Dr. Jeremy Jackson

  • The ecosystem of the ocean severely affected fishery

  • In the last 30 years, 50% of all coral has been lost

  • Around 1/3 CO2 in the air is absorbed by ocean

Environmental Physics: Gidon Eshel

  • Changing diet

  • Cattle raising is the least efficient use of resources in the world.

Economy: Gregory Mankiw

  • Carbon Tax

  • Public's mind can change the government's, they do what people want them to do

Environmental Science: Johan Rockström

  • The temperature kept relatively stable in the last one or two thousand years

  • Negative effects of warming:

  • 1 Celsius degree: abnormal weather, drought

  • 2 Celsius degree: the death of the coral reef

  • 3-4 Celsius degree: heatwave, many places become unlivable

Astronaut: Dr. Piers Sellers

  • Science community has not done the best job of communicating this threat to the public.

  • Food and water causes wars

The first thing that I found in this documentary is that the opinions of these experts were just proving what I had read in the previous study. My impression of these ideas is climate change is actually focused on the keyword, RESOURCE. What we are confronting is the negative impact of overusing the resources in the past and we will face the reduction of the resources in the foreseeable future. Therefore, we need to balance the usage of them by applying policies like the carbon tax, adjusting the agriculture structure and advocating renewable energies. Meanwhile, human's selfishness is also a point in the video. For profiting themselves, companies would choose to cut down palm trees without concerning the harm to nature, senators are willing to sell their prudential to disguise the dark side of big oil companies, people would start the wars to fight for resources. Admittedly, selfishness is one of the essences of humankind and one of the reasons is because we are actually splitting the people into groups with prejudice.



bottom of page