Justifying bad behaviour

Tags: Francesca Galeazzi, Podcast, Video

This morning I walked across the fresh snow with a gas cylinder in my arms, containing 6kg of CO2. I took it across the unspoiled snow field of the Jakobshavn Fjord until I found what, to my eyes, was a wonderful place.

From a little hill I could see massive icebergs impassably floating by, some of them breaking up from time to time with a loud bang. The sea below was deep grey, which made the icebergs stand up in all their beauty and fragility. The sky was a merge of pale grey and cerulean with a yellow glow just behind the skyline. Lichen and small berry plants could be felt under the powdery snow as I walked by. I thought this is perfect!

I walked to the top of the small hill, I put the cylinder down, got on my knees and opened the valve. The CO2 came out violently, freezing the air around the nozzle and producing an unpleasant whistle. When I lowered the cylinder towards the ground, the snow blow off all around me under the pressure of the air jet, almost to signify the melting of the Arctic ice shelf because of the Carbon emissions generated somewhere else.

Francesca Galeazzi during her carbon emissions piece in The Arctic
Photo: Nathan Gallagher.

Reading this you might think I am an evil horrible woman. I would like to reassure you, I am not! I haven’t done anything bad. because I have offset the carbon emissions generated by the CO2 cylinder, through an online Gold Standard Carbon Offsetting scheme! Cool no? This is great stuff. one can go about consciously polluting the world, wasting energy, producing tonnes of waste and abusing natural resources without feeling guilty at all!! One can simply pay somebody to compensate for his/her ‘bad’ actions somewhere else, and become Carbon Neutral!

Don’t you think this is great?

Do you?

Personally I think it is appalling.

A lot has to be done before we can revert to Carbon offsetting as an effective mechanism to reduce global Carbon emissions.

Fundamental changes in societal behaviour are necessary to reduce our environmental impact, looking at the way we live, travel, eat, consume, go on holiday and warm our homes. Only after we have significantly reduced our environmental impact to the minimum possible, only then Carbon offsetting can start to be used efficiently.

With my performance I am seeking to throw a serious comment on the contemporary practice of Carbon Offsetting as a mean of green washing conscience and excusing bad behaviour. I am also seeking to provoke debate on why society is so resistant to change and how a collective behavioural shift could be achieved.

The cost of Carbon is still too low to drive change.

Change must come from within.

A carbon emissions piece in The Arctic by Francesca Galeazzi
Francesca Galeazzi – Justifying bad behaviour. Photo: Nathan Gallagher

Francesca Galeazzi makes an artistic statement about carbon offsetting and climate change
Francesca Galeazzi – Justifying bad behaviour. Photo: Nathan Gallagher


  1. Birdie

    Posted Thursday 2 Oct at 04:51 | Permalink

    Wow, this was refreshing and encouraging to read! I’ve been rolling over this issue in regards to touring musicians. I hope your mates can discuss. Some musicians swear they are green but go “tour” to write songs in the old fashion way and play to coffeehouses that may or may not have anyone in them or 10 people turn up for their shows etc. How big of an audience justifies all the flying, etc? Flying produces the most global warming of all – trains the least, as far as public transport goes. How much gear, how many trucks, are the bus or trucks running on biodiesel or what? and what IS the best way to go? Biodiesel bus – containers for all the cargo on trains. Design that tour route. Food? There is an international directory for Farmers Markets, have wok & propane or electric burner can travel :-) Bette Midler planted herself in Vegas rather than charge around the country or world with 10 trucks hauling everything except…people have to all drive/fly to vegas to see her..I’m keen on retrofitting vintage airstreams w/solar, electric incinolet toliet, windpower, and more…all hitched to biodiesel truck. Willie Nielsen has biodiesel buses AND his own biodiesel fuel company. SOME people have made REAL efforts…I think cargo containers going on trains for big tours are worthy of designing the tours around. I don’t know if Leslie’s airstream is all green but I have been researching converting them for years and they are an exciting alternative!! More dialogue within different industries along these lines will produce more results. The carbon offset thing seemed to me to be a weak attempt when working on the tour issues. I don’t agree with the let’s hit the road and write unless its really green down to the shiny silver rivets. I vote for more people getting sent to sit in more corners to put on more thinking caps and come up with really productive healthy planet ways to do things. THANK YOU for raising the issue and being there! Birdie

  2. miss lake

    Posted Thursday 2 Oct at 08:29 | Permalink

    This is a very challenging performance! Should I be angry at you for the release of CO2 in the name of art? Am I proud of your bravery in committing this intentional act of climate change crime? Can I justify these feelings of despair toward the obvious governmentally driven get-out clause called Off-setting? Is a feeling of hostility mixed with hope even possible? Your work is certainly thought provoking – and that is essential in these times of change. Provocative, educational and entertaining – brilliant, I look forward to more.

  3. Birdie

    Posted Thursday 2 Oct at 08:41 | Permalink

    Excellent response Miss Lake. It made me want to compare what she is doing to what a surgeon does. They do have to cut into people to get the thing out they need to remove or whatever and so the healing can start. So, yes an incision is made, but the end result makes it worth while. :-)

  4. miss lake

    Posted Thursday 2 Oct at 13:50 | Permalink

    Birdie – nice analogy of a surgeon, and I’d like to add that it’s important to remember that even though the cuts are man-made it will ultimately be the body that heals itself. I think it’s true with most science (and art come to think of it) that with the good comes the bad as there are often risks getting to an ambitious goal. It’s this fine line between risk and reward that I believe as a race we have over-stepped. I hope that it’s not too late to reverse up and start heading in the right direction :)

  5. Birdie

    Posted Saturday 4 Oct at 22:32 | Permalink

    I am going to ask Godfrey Reggio. He is the director of “Koyannisqatsi” – a film I worked with him on, in the early 80’s. “Koyannisqatsi” is the hopi indian word – meaning “life out of Balance” “A way of Life that calls for another way of living”. He is my perfect collaborator for something like this.
    Together, we are masters of images. If Laurie Anderson or another musician/composer would be interested, get in touch. Philip Glass did the score for “Koyannisqatsi”. There are a number of ways this could go – but – that’s my background….and I have access to all the gear, etc.

  6. Birdie

    Posted Saturday 4 Oct at 22:36 | Permalink

    and, Laurie if you are reading – Leni Schwendinger – is a very old friend. She did lighting for me at The Castro Theatre (about 28 years ago), and worked with you on slide making for your shows. She would be great for an illumination project out there…

  7. Alan Wainwright

    Posted Saturday 25 Oct at 09:59 | Permalink

    Francesca has released 6kg of CO2. Plain daft ….. irresponsible ………. or thought-provoking?

    On Tuesday evening at the Dana Centre, Francesca was able to give a little more background to her actions and she suggested again that we should put her 6kg of CO2 into context. So, back home, I took another look at the details on my monthly expenses form.

    The figures thrown up by the spreadsheet are pretty horrendous! In 7 months since April, my car has travelled just under 7,000 miles – no more than an average mileage – and it has thrown out 2.24 tonnes of CO2. At 0.335 kg CO2/mile, I would have to travel less than 18 miles to create Francesca’s ‘appalling’ cylinder full of CO2. Francesca’s figure of 30 miles for her 6kg of CO2 seems, if anything, optimistic. I should add that my car is a common (but ageing) family model – by no means a SUV.

    The Earth’s atmosphere is only a very thin layer (generally accepted as about 60-70 miles) relative to the planet’s dimensions; how can we possibly imagine that it can accept our ever-increasing production of CO2 without consequences?

  8. pinroot

    Posted Thursday 19 Nov at 03:18 | Permalink

    The 6kg of CO2 Francesca released is really no big deal. Ask her about the nearly 455kg she releases yearly through breathing. Multiply that by 6.5 billion or so people on the planet. Now we’re talking some real numbers.

    Not that it matters though. Despite the best efforts of Al Gore to the contrary, more and more people are waking up to the fraud of human caused global warming. You should too.