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Eco-art message for Cancún

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UN climate change talks start today amidst global publicity for a reduction in greenhouse gasses.

350.org in Broken Hill

A giant windmill and 350, representing the safe level of 350 parts per million of greenhouse emissions scientists say we need to return to, etched into the red earth at Folwer's Gap near Broken Hill by artist Keith Chidzey. The display is Australia's contribution to an international collection of artworks large enough to be seen from space calling for climate change action before the upcoming United Nation's climate talks in Mexico.

Credit: Peter Solness

350.org in Broken Hill - nightshot

A torchlit nightshot of a giant windmill and 350, representing the safe level of 350 parts per million of greenhouse emissions scientists say we need to return to, etched into the red earth at Folwer's Gap near Broken Hill by artist Keith Chidzey. The display is Australia's contribution to an international collection of artworks large enough to be seen from space calling for climate change action before the upcoming United Nation's climate talks in Mexico.

Credit: Peter Solness

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Peaceful protestors sent a clear message to delegates at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which starts today in Cancún, Mexico, with artworks discernible from space.

Last week artists around the world, together with climate campaign group 350.org, featured 16 symbolic performances to highlight the hazards of climate change through the global EARTH art exhibition.

Australian artist Kieth Chidzey and photographer Peter Solness added their artistic contribution just outside of Broken Hill in NSW.

"For me, one of the major goals of this project is to raise the general public's awareness and understanding of the necessity to make positive personal steps to reverse some of the impacts of climate change," said Chidzey.

The Australian work of art is a giant windmill to highlight Australia's untapped renewable energy resources that could help the world get back to the safe level of 350 parts per million of greenhouse gases.

The artist and a team of volunteers graded, dug, mattocked and raked out shapes 200m long and 70m wide in the red earth of Fowler's Gap near Broken Hill.

The display is supported by Broken Hill City Council, the Silverton Windfarm and individual patrons on land set aside for creative works by the Land International Research Initiative (ILIRI) at the UNSW research centre at Fowler's Gap.

"Art can convey in a different way than science the threat that climate change poses to our planet," said 350.org founder and environmental author Bill McKibben. "The world's best scientists have tried to wake-up politicians to the climate crisis, now we're counting on artists to help."

"The first pictures of Earth from space helped launch the modern environmental movement," said McKibben. "We hope these art pieces can help spark a new movement to solve the climate crisis. Art is not a substitute for political action, but it can help build a public movement that can begin to apply real pressure."

Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead and an advocate of climate action, collaborated with artist Stanley Donwood to create a live sculpture of 2,000 people in Brighton, UK, on Saturday, forming the image of King Canute who futilely attempted to control the seas.

"Our leaders are still labouring under the assumption that they can turn the tide of mother nature," said Yorke. "Enough of this. There is no more time."

"The world needs to take strong and credible action to move to a low-pollution future and limit global temperature increase to less than two degrees Celsius," said Australian Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, who will be attending the conference.

"While a final international outcome is not expected to be agreed at Cancún, the Australian Government will work hard to make progress on key issues including: adaptation; reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; transparent reporting; and climate financing."

Satellite photos and aerial images of each art project will be displayed at the UN climate talks in Cancún until December 10. Click here to see the international artworks across the world; from Reykjavik in Iceland, to New Delhi in India.