“Temperature Scarves” and “Tempestries” Are Sending a Message About Warming


Photo: Tempestry Project

As the Trump Administration increasingly tries to de-fund and deny the science of climate change, Medium and The New York Times have published a beautiful stories on knitters across the country who have started to document rising temperatures in their communities and in National Parks by creating scarves that “record” local temperature changes across the span of a year.  These scarves are colorful but they are also making a point about climate change in a way that opens up conversations with people who might not otherwise be able to see what is happening by showing temperature changes in stripes that represent temperature increases in a particular location each year.

Similarly, as explained on its web site, The Tempestry Project “blends fiber art with temperature data to create a bridge between global climate and our own personal experiences through knitted or crocheted temperature tapestries, or “Tempestries.’  Each Tempestry represents the daily high temperature for a given year and location, January at the bottom and December at the top….” And a British climate scientist created “warming stripes” in 2018 (see below), a series of lines of red, orange, white and blue, that he has printed on ties, leggings, and flip-flops as a visual reminder of long-term warming trends — and their “show your stripes” lapel pins are a staple at every global climate gathering.

Why This Matters:  These knitters and artists are determined to preserve temperature records and educate the public with a visual record that has become a symbol of the climate movement.  According to the Times, scarves have been knitted to visualize the rising temperatures in 30 national parks, including Glacier Bay and the Grand Canyon. And people noticed when Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, donned a temperature scarf at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to call attention to the climate crisis weeks after he announced his firm would begin to divest.  It is not only First Ladies who can use fashion and the arts to educate the public on an important policy issue.  

Graphic: Climate Scientist Ed Hawkins

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