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(Archive) Extinction Claims

This project was part of DDW 2021
Design by Gabriela Baka

In this project, Paolo Cirio combines the legal concept of “environmental personhood” with the “right of nature” jurisprudential theory, informed by climate change litigations, ecocide bills, and global climate treaties to give legal rights and protection to the natural world.

Financial reparations

Cirio aims to legally accuse the international oil, gas, and carbon companies that deliberately emitted over 70% of all greenhouse gases, causing extensive damage to Earth’s ecosystems and the species dependent on them for survival, all with the intention of covering up their crimes for decades. This project issues requests to these firms for a financial reparation which is calculated by Cirio’s algorithm that integrates the economic concept of the “existence value” via contingent valuation combined with data on emissions from studies of “attribution science”.

The financial reparations are designated to fund the preservation of endangered species whose natural environments are threatened by the climate crisis, while seeking legal accountability for the extermination and enormous damages done to these living beings.

Attribution Science

Central to this project is the so-called “attribution science”, or the “effort to scientifically ascertain mechanisms responsible for recent global warming and related climate changes on Earth.” In order to determine who is primarily accountable for the climate crises, related data from major oil, gas, and carbon companies is found in the pivotal datasets of the Carbon Majors. These datasets are combined with aggregated data on mass extinctions from IUCN Red List to calculate how the natural world is economically and legally entitled to reparation from the companies that are knowingly causing the annihilation of species and ecosystems.

Our planet now faces a global extinction crisis never witnessed by humankind. Scientists predict that more than 1 million species are on track for extinction in the upcoming decades. One of the main challenges in tackling mass extinction is the lack of public awareness and citizen agency. Most efforts in documenting the populations of different species are conducted by scientific organizations, while citizens remain ill-informed and widely unengaged, despite the urgency necessary to address the climate crisis and the following mass extinction.

Extinction Claims project and campaign

This project also attempts to make these scientific issues more accessible to the general public to encourage greater participation and public discourse on these topics that are generally reserved for the scientific community. The data regarding compensation for individual endangered species is formatted for the online platform with images of species with appealing design. Additionally, this material is presented as street art campaigns, installations in art institutions, and as featured articles for various press outlets. By integrating science, big data, design and art making, Extinction Claims directly engages the general public in understanding the scale and scope of the extinction crisis our planet faces.

This project will eventually be the node for larger campaigns coordinated with environmental activists and organizations to continue action in the following years, possibly culminating with actualized legal disputes against the Carbon Majors. The Extinction Claims project and campaign is launched around the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. It is scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland from 1 to 12 November 2021.