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A clock on a Manhattan tower now displays the 'Earth's deadline'

Artists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd transformed New York City's Metronome into the Climate Clock, which counts down the window for action to mitigate the effects of global warming.

A clock on a Manhattan tower now displays the 'Earth's deadline'
Image Source: Re-opening Continues Across Densely Populated New York And New Jersey Areas. NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Metronome is a large public art installation located in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Overlooking Union Square, the installation is a 62-foot-wide, 15-digit electronic clock that once told the time in its own "unique" way. Unlike a regular clock, Metronome counted the hours, minutes, and seconds (and fractions thereof) to and from midnight. Tourists and New Yorkers who spotted the digital clock and did not understand its meaning tended to think it had something to do with the value pi, the population of the world, or, interestingly enough, the acres of rainforest destroyed each year. The latter group may just be on to something. The creators of the installation, artists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd, recently changed the algorithm so it could display what they call the "Earth's deadline," The New York Times reports.


On Saturday at 3:20 pm, messages began appearing on the clock. They read, "The Earth has a deadline," among other notes to passersby. The messages then vanished to reveal a set of numbers (7:103:15:40:07, to be precise). These numbers reportedly count the years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the planet's so-called "deadline." The numbers are based on calculations by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin according to the artists. As quickly as the set of numbers appeared, they began counting down, second by second, to the deadline.


Golan explained right before the countdown began, "This is our way to shout that number from the rooftops. The world is literally counting on us." For him and Boyd, this innovation to the installation is a way to present the "critical window for action to prevent the effects of global warming from becoming irreversible," part of their new ecologically sensitive mission. Metronome has thus been renamed The Climate Clock. It will be on display on the 14th Street building, One Union Square South, from now until September 27, which marks the end of Climate Week.


The idea for the project came to Golan shortly after his daughter was born, about two years ago. He pulled Boyd, an activist, onboard to bring his idea to life. Together, they have previously made a handheld climate clock for Greta Thunberg, the young teen responsible for the Fridays for Future climate strikes. The duo's goal is to raise awareness about the urgency of climate action. Taking inspiration from the Doomsday Clock, maintained online by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and by the National Debt Clock near Bryant Park in Manhattan, the artists believed their Climate Clock would have the most impact if it were displayed like artwork in a "conspicuous public space." Stephen Ross, the chairman of Related Companies, the developer that owns One Union Square South, affirmed in a statement, "The Climate Clock will remind the world every day just how perilously close we are to the brink. This initiative will encourage everybody to join us in fighting for the future of our planet."


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