How much of a distant news  is climate change ? 

The topic of the project is a species of pine trees, Norway spruce (Hungarian ‘lucfenyő’, picea abies, the same one that has traditionally been used as Christmas trees) which has been dying in European forests for over a decade and is now becoming visible in cities and gardens as well, very often not connected to the global issue by the garden owners, who believe there's a local problem in their gardens.The trees are weakened during extensive heat periods due to insufficient amount of water in the soil and they stop producing resin that normally protects them from insects. That’s when the bark beetle attacks them, there’s no way to reverse this process. 

This ongoing project started in September 2023 in a garden in Budapest and has been my personal journey of discovery of this ecological catastrophe in the city. I have been documenting dying Norway spruce trees in Budapest, other Hungarian cities as well as the country side and, finally, forests in Matra mountains. 

My aim is to illustrate how personal experience of climate change shakes our sense of safety and how quietly, almost unnoticeably its effects can enter our own surroundings. 

For many people living in a capital of a land-locked country in Central Europe, climate change effects: melting glaciers, ocean pollution, wildfires or dying forests are distant problems, something they hear about on the news from the safety of their homes, something they might trust their government and specialists will deal with or something they simply do not believe.

For those who do, the observable signs of climate change are warmer winters and hotter summers. “Odd weather is one of the growing ways human beings experience climate change phenomenologically or beyond abstract science. Even those who do not ‘believe’ in climate change experience it.” (Travis Holloway, "How to Live at the End of the World”, Stanford Briefs, 2022, p.10).

In the safety of their homes and gardens, people might feel they can hide from the ‘weather' and that as long as the big environmental issues stay distant, their private worlds won’t be affected. Still having trust in institutions, many people believe their government together with environmental organisations and scientists will take care of the issues they see in in the news, while their immediate surroundings stay unaffected because they have been taking good care of it. Until they see they are impacted in ways they didn’t even see coming.

The questions the project asks is: How much of a distant news is climate change? Is it something that happens somewhere else? Somewhere far away in the places we hear about in the news? Is it something that won't affect our own personal space as long as we take proper care of it? What if its symptoms are something that we are familiar with, who hasn't seen a dead tree in the end? Lastly - will (pine) trees cease to be nature and become a commodity only instead?

I want to go further and research the distinction between 'nature' and 'our own territory' as discussed by Bruno Latour, as well as explore the meaning of gardens and pine trees in different cultures.

The trees are dying quietly amidst the widespread belief that climate change is something that belongs somewhere else.

Using Format