Belgian artist Ruben Bellinkx has created Dive, a work in progress. It is a diorama of a serene post-apocalyptic scene where a toll road has been half-submerged, rendering it anything but usable. On this bridge sits a single child. They are leaning against their bike in contemplation of their surroundings. 

This ethereal piece transports viewers to a reality where sea levels across the planet have risen due to climate change. By adding a child onto the piece, Bellinkx asks his audiences to think about how today’s climate inaction will bring adverse effects for future generations, encouraging them to make climate conscious decisions in their lives, no matter how small. This makes his piece relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Climate Action.

Dive, a work in progress by Ruben Bellinkx. Image courtesy of @rubenbellinkx/Instagram.

A 2020 study by the University of Leeds and the Danish Meteorological Institute has stated that sea levels are currently rising at a rate that is the worst-case scenario for climate scientists. Using this data, a simulator made by Climate Central found that by 2100, the sea levels in Belgium would have risen by 80 cm - one metre high. Professor Patrick Meire of Antwerp University has cautioned that a large part of the country exists only a few metres above sea level, which means that scenes depicted in Dive, a work in progress, may be more representative of reality than humankind would care to admit.

Dive, a work in progress by Ruben Bellinkx. Image courtesy of @rubenbellinkx/Instagram.

To answer the problem, The Indiana University has been sharing a comprehensive how-to guide against rising sea levels. Their strategy includes everything from the construction of new coastal infrastructure to the restoration of wetlands and even the preservation of coastal habitats and barriers.

Reading these measures as a bullet point list would scare most people, making them feel small against the gargantuan problem that requires even bigger solutions. Rising sea levels feel like impending doom of planetary proportions, of which humankind seems to no longer have any control. This feeling, which has come to be known as climate anxiety, has been poetically rendered into Bellinkx’s Dive, a work in progress.

The child in the miniature sits and gazes out into the water. Their shoulders slump in defeat as if accepting their fate to grow up surrounded by flooded man-made infrastructure. Compared to the world around them, they are small, minuscule even.

Yet the diorama’s lighting and display give viewers a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Combine this with how the portrayed child sits gazing at the water, a feeling that most people can relate to when they visit the beach. Sitting by the water, gazing out into the horizon, anyone is bound to feel the planet’s embrace. This mood helps ground viewers back to today’s reality, where there are still small personal actions that can be taken against rising sea levels. These include reducing personal carbon footprints, reducing energy use and pushing local governments to adopt climate action plans.

Find out more about Ruben Bellinkx’s Dive, a work in progress and their other pieces by checking their Instagram on @rubenbellinkx.

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