15 Nov 2011 /

public smog

By amy balkin
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The above still was captured from Amy Balkin's 16 min Flash video Public Smog (video loop, 2006-2011) documenting the development of Public Smog (2004+), a clean-air park in the atmosphere. The project involves an ongoing series of attempts to open the park to the public through activities including purchasing and withholding emissions in regulated greenhouse gas markets, and an effort to have the atmosphere listed as a World Heritage Site.

Public Smog (2004+) is a park in the atmosphere that fluctuates in location and scale. The park is constructed through financial, legal, or political activities that open it for public use. Activities to create the park have included purchasing and retiring emission offsets in regulated emissions markets, making them inaccessible to polluting industries. When Public Smog is built through this process, it exists in the unfixed public airspace above the region where offsets are purchased and withheld from use. The park’s size varies, reflecting the amount of emissions allowances purchased and the length of contract, compounded by fluctuations in air quality. Public Smog opened over California's South Coast Air Quality Management District in 2004, and over the European Union in 2007. Other activities to create Public Smog impact the size, location, and duration of the park. These activities include an attempt to submit Earth’s atmosphere for inscription on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Public Smog is subject to prevailing winds, and the long-range transport of aerosols and gases.


To view the entire loop, please click here

Project Credits:
Amy Balkin, with contributions from Dr. Alexandra Thompson, David Oppenheimer, Mark Van Soestbergen, Dr. David Pepper, Dr. Thomas Cahill (CO2 Metrics), Josh On, Kate Rich, Public Co. Trading partner Fiona Parry, the anonymous 2004 NOX trader, and Hungarian traders who waived their fees and executed EUA trades in 2006. Additional thanks to all who helped answer questions about the World Heritage List process, and to friendly and unfriendly emissions trading brokers, agencies, and administrative and nonprofit representatives involved with, or consulted during the research and trading process. Special thanks the Royal College of Art MA Curating Contemporary Art class of 2007, Rob Halpern, Joseph Del Pesco/Collective Foundation, Fabienne Delpy-Adler, Kevin Smith of Carbon Trade Watch, Ben Furstenberg, Ingrid Swensen, and unnamed khat traders and chewers from Stepney Green.

Image credits:
Ship Tracks in a Stratiform Cloud Layer courtesy of NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team (, Haze and Pollution over Western Europe courtesy of the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE.

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