Climate Odyssey artists' book prototype, unfolded

Our Global Problem

The severity of climate change impacts is increasing globally, giving rise to serious consequences locally for coastal communities and ecosystems. Cognitive arguments about the reality of climate change have failed to convince a large majority of Americans of the problem’s origins and consequences; according to the results of a 2014 IPSOS survey , only 54% of Americans agree that “...the climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity.” [1]

Our Local and Regional Solution

The Atlantic coast and northern Caribbean are particularly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Local economies and infrastructure need an engaged and informed public in order to successfully adapt to rising sea levels and more severe storms.

We, artist Lucy Holtsnider and hydrologist Zion Klos, will use our complimentary skills in art, science and communication to bring the urgency of climate change adaptation to new audiences throughout these regions. In June of 2015, we will embark on Climate Odyssey, a year-long sailing expedition beginning in Lake Michigan and concluding in the Caribbean. Along the way we’ll photograph climate change impacts and adaptation strategies, interview stakeholders, politicians, scientists and artists, and visit classrooms and community groups.

We’ll share our photographs and encounters in an interactive digital map and blog on our website.  Each image added to the digital map will be linked to relevant blog entries and other adaptation resources, making the map both a piece of art and an engaging tool for sharing the science of climate change. At the end of our journey we will print out the digital map and make it into an artists' book, like this prototype, to be shared in libraries, galleries, and classrooms in those same communities we visited. 


1. How is Climate Odyssey funded?

We are financing this trip through several avenues. In addition to using around $10,000 of our own savings, Zion’s PhD research, funded through the National Science Foundation, will continue throughout our journey. We are also fortunate that Dan and Mary Klos have generously donated the boat we’ll be using.

This leaves $25,000 to be raised through crowd sourced funding, grants, and sponsorships. Please see the graph for a breakdown of our expenses. 

34' x 19' Homebuilt wooden catamaran

2. What type of boat will you be sailing?

We will be sailing the same 34’ x 19’ home-built wooden catamaran that the Klos family sailed for fifteen months from 2000-2001. The boat was built in the 1980’s, restored by the Klos family between 1999 and 2000, and is currently being restored by the two of us.

3. Why is this project focused on adaptation and not mitigation of climate change?

Just to review, mitigation of climate change refers to resolving the cause of the problem by lowering carbon emissions. Adaptation to climate change refers to efforts to spare life and property from the impacts that are already occurring and will continue to worsen. Some examples of adaptations include restoring coastal wetlands, building walls to protect beaches from storm surges, or considering rising sea level in urban planning.

Even if (so far elusive) global policy actions needed to mitigate our emissions occur, climate change impacts will continue to exist and worsen. Without any additional emissions the current concentrations of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere will further warm and alter the earth’s climate for decades to come. In light of this our goal is to work at a local scale to help communities understand and adapt to these changes that are already underway.  

Using our interactive map and artists' book we'll invigorate people who are currently disengaged from the issue by connecting with them first at an emotional level using art, and through it, we hope to then grow their understanding of the science. We'll highlight the global issue of social injustice present between the places that can and can't afford to adapt to these changes. We'll also share stories of communities doing a lot with a little to prepare for the future.  We believe that only after people connect with the issue emotionally, understand the science globally, and feel the need to adapt locally will a discussion begin about what mitigation can look like within our communities and world.

climate odyssey route map

4. What is your route?

We’ll depart from Manitowoc, WI on Lake Michigan and head east towards the Erie Canal. From the canal we’ll take the Hudson River to the Atlantic Ocean, where we’ll hug the coast until we reach the Caribbean Sea. Our route from there will depend on how much money we can raise!

5. What is an artists’ book?

Artists’ books are works of art realized in the form of a book, often published in editions. They are fine art that can be held and investigated and passed around. Our Climate Odyssey artists' book is a way for people to hold in their hands evidence of coastal climate change and the multitude of adaptations being implemented. Each book represents a unique collaboration between artist and scientist and will be a gateway to a wealth of information about climate change and coastal adaptation. Artists' books are recognized for their status as a unique “vehicle for the dissemination of ideas and a radical format of bringing art to a wider public through artists self-publishing their work.” [2] We will produce this book in an edition of at least 20 copies making it accessible to many different libraries, museums, and private collectors as well as individuals in the communities we visit.

6. Is Climate Odyssey a non-profit?

Climate Odyssey is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. This means we can solicit tax-deductible donations and apply for grants without going through the process of launching a 501(c)(3). Contributions for the charitable purposes of Climate Odyssey must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. 

7. I live in a coastal community on your route and I'm interested in meeting you guys!

Awesome, we want to meet you too! Please use the contact form on our For Teachers page under the Media tab to get in touch!