Hard Rain: Whole Earth?

The solutions exhibition Whole Earth? launched at Keele University in North Staffordshire on Thursday 9 February 2012, with the university’s new Chancellor and renowned environmentalist Jonathon Porritt and Joan Walley MP joining creator Mark Edwards to open the display.

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Whole Earth? Aligning human systems and natural systems responds to thousands of requests for an exhibition that illustrates solutions to the problems highlighted in Hard Rain. It shows that we have the technology (mostly) to deal with our global problems – the vision has been written out often enough – but governments need grassroots support if they are to scale up these solutions and move towards sustainable development.

It is designed to engage the next generation of decision-makers – students at universities now – as well as the general public, in the campaign for sustainable development.

“The key challenge,” says Mark Edwards, “is to find new ways of showing political and business leaders there is grassroots support for sustainable development. Governments can’t get ahead of their electorates. They understand the need for sustainable development, but it is not a priority - voters are not urging them loudly enough to act in favour of the future. What’s needed is a new kind of joined-up campaign designed and led by tomorrow's decision-makers - students at universities now."

“Given how effectively and comprehensively my generation has trashed the prospects for all young people today," adds Jonathon Porritt, "it astonishes me just how disengaged most students are on issues like population, climate change, biodiversity and global resources. Today’s students have got a lot on their minds, but we need to motivate them so that these issues resonate and are seen as a priority. We should be in a situation where students are holding their university to task on issues about the environment, not needing to be reminded of its importance.”

Whole Earth? is now on display at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, from where it will travel to RBGE's regional gardens at Benmore, Dawyck and Logan from July 2012 to November 2013 together with What Scotland is Doing, a display produced by the Hard Rain team showing some of the sustainable development projects in the country and overseas, and featuring specially commissioned photographs by Chris Steele-Perkins. The village of Comrie, an inspiring example of community action for sustainability included in the display, will present the exhibition in June. Meanwhile Aberdeen University hosts another edition of the main exhibition from 16 April to 11 May.

A national tour of Sweden kicked off on 12 May with a display at the centre of the Planet Lund Sustainability Festival, which delivered two weeks filled with knowledge-sharing activities for schools, businesses and cultural organizations.
See opposite for further details of the Sweden tour.

Back in the UK, Whole Earth? opened at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 19 May, with a public hearing in the church organised by the Environmental Audit Committee on Monday 21 May.
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The London exhibition stays up until September to catch visitors to the Olympics. Both RBGE and St Martin’s hosted Hard Rain, and we’re delighted both were eager to show the follow-up exhibition.

Also on 21 May, Whole Earth? began a 7-day run at Anglia Ruskin University’s Chelmsford campus, and on Wednesday 23 May Mark Edwards’ Hard Rain: Whole Earth? talk featured on the programme at both the Faculty of Science & Technology’s Research and Scholarship Conference, and the evening launch of the newly inaugurated Global Sustainability Institute, introduced by the institute's Director, Dr Aled Jones.

On 23 June, Whole Earth? began a three-week run at Bursem Park, Stoke-on-Trent, marking the re-opening of the park after a major refurbishment.

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