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Iconic National Park Posters Redesigned for 2050 Show the Devastation of Climate Change

Starving bears, burning hillsides, and barren mountains make the threat of inaction feel real in artist Hannah Rothstein’s new series.
Images courtesy the artist

The recent assault on protections for National Parks from the conservative White House is hard to wrap one's head around. Inspired by WPA-era artwork promoting the National Parks, artist Hannah Rothstein lays it out plain and simple in a reimagined series of posters depicting ravaged vistas that could be Yosemite, Redwoods, and Yellowstone in 2050.

Climate change is difficult to fight because it's more abstract than an enemy with a face, and most of the known solutions involve inconvenient and more expensive consumption habits over time. In a VICE article called "Why Isn't Pop Culture Better at Talking About Climate Change?" comedian Jordan Poisey writes, "It's a crisis that exists mainly in the numbers and graphs of scientists as opposed to issues like equality and poverty which we've all seen or been affected by. This problem of it remaining an abstract dilemma has only been exasperated by the billion dollar denial industry cooked up by petrol interests, which has forced climate change voices to focus on the science and on inscrutable facts that are firm and true as opposed to a more human tale."


Rothstein's series, National Parks 2050, seeks to solve that problem. Building on the visual language of the original National Parks posters, she ties the recent outrage over proposed budget cuts and development deregulations to the environmental impacts that slashing the EPA and laissez faire climate policies could have on our beloved nature reserves. Once you've seen an emaciated Smokey the Bear plodding through a barren landscape, it's hard not to want to call Congress.

"The changes shown are based on information from the parks' .gov sites, scientific reports, and reputable news articles about climate change," says Rothstein. "I was only able to include an abbreviated list of potential changes on each poster. The predicted changes are actually much more far-reaching than what's highlighted here. I'd encourage people to read up on the predicted changes and start talking about them. Acknowledgement and dialogue are the first steps towards positive change, and we need to get moving on this!"

The poster series launches just in time for Earth Day and the March for Science on April 22, the People's Climate March on April 29, and National Parks Week, which kicks off on April 15. Rothstein is often inspired by topical events, gaining notice for her artistic takes on Thanksgiving dinner and a festive Dr. Dreidel emblazoned with West Coast rap icon Dr. Dre.

Check out more of  Hannah Rothstein's work on her website, Instagram, and Facebook. She's donating 25% of all proceeds from her prints and paintings to climate change-related organizations. Learn more about how to fight climate change here.


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