2 Degrees C

Coral reefs, an important focus in much of Parotti’s recent paintings, are home to the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet. This in turn sustains a sea life upon which more than 500 million people depend for survival, most of these in poor countries. With global warming and climate change, reefs have suffered coral bleaching and are at risk of extinction. The title of this series, 2 Degrees C refers to the imperative to limit global average temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels if the coral reefs are to survive.

Bleaching is a stress response that causes coral animals to expel the microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) whose photosynthesis provides the energy needed to build three-dimensional reef structures. It only takes a spike of 1-2°C to cause bleaching, and carbon emissions have caused a 1°C increase in global surface temperature since pre-industrial times.

Reefs around the world have suffered from mass bleaching events for three consecutive years. Iconic reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the United States have all experienced their worst bleaching on record with devastating effects. The bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017, for instance, killed around 50% of its corals.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has reported that (1.5degrees) 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit could be reached in as little as 11 years—and almost certainly within 20 years without major cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Even if such cuts were to begin immediately it would only delay, not prevent, 2 degrees Celsius of global warming.

Exhibition detail: Scope Miami Beach 2019