December 10 – A Hard Rain

Droplets of rain are currently running down the side of the tipi and collecting in pools at the edge of the canvas. This is not a hard rain, but according to Bob Dylan, a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. Yes, today behind door number 10 of our outdoor ADVENTure calendar – on the day the Nobel prizes for this year are to be awarded – we followed the sound of Dylan outside.

A few years back, as a postgraduate, I was walking through my university campus. Unlike today it was a beautiful sunny day, and I was dragging out my lunch break by taking a meandering stroll across a courtyard back to my office. In this particular courtyard an organisation was putting on a temporary exhibition, and, in the prospect of prolonging my lunch break further, I wandered over to take a look. The exhibition was ‘A Hard Rain‘. One of the most enduring and successful environmental exhibitions to date, A Hard Rain, presents images relating to global challenges, alongside Dylan’s text for ‘A hard rain’s a-gonna fall’. Climate change, poverty eradication, environmental protection, and sustainable consumption and production follow one another in a striking and thought provoking display. It was a display that captured my attention, and it is one that I have used time and time again in lectures since. The video (which you can watch here) always renders students speechless. The message is disturbing, confrontational and powerful. And today, it reminds me how deserving Dylan is of the Nobel prize for literature.

61 Mãe Bonifacia rain.JPG

Rain, Mãe Bonifacia park, Cuiabá, Brazil (Photograph: Gina Maffey)

It also got me thinking about what other Nobel laureates are known for their link to nature. Here are five I came up with, but please let me know if you think I have missed any key players:

  1. 1920 (Literature) – Knut Hamsun “for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil“. “Hamsun’s work is determined by a deep aversion to civilization and the belief that man’s only fulfilment lies with the soil“.
  2. 1939 (Literature) – Frans Eemil Sillanpää for his deep understanding of his country’s peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature“.
  3. 1974 (Literature) – Harry Matinson (together with Eyvind Johnson) for “for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos“.
  4. 2004 (Peace) – Wangari Maathai, for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace“. Maathai founded The Green Belt Movement: “an environmental organization that empowers communities, particularly women, to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods“.
  5. 2007 (Peace) – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”.

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