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In the hope that people would touch the ice and be touched by it - and thus claim the dangers of climate change as their own - Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and Greenlandic geologist Minik Rosing collected, hauled and left to melt in the middle of Copenhagen's City Hall Square 12 huge chunks totalling 100 tons of Arctic ice - the astounding amount now said to melt every 100th of a second. The ice, harvested by divers near the Nuup Kangerlua fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland after it had already broken off the ice cap, was placed in a clock formation in the square, where people could look, listen, touch and hopefully learn as it melted. The installation was organized in conjunction with this week's U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report. The Danish government, which hopes to become carbon neutral by 2025, is hosting the panel.
The ice chunk display is part of a larger Ice Watch project. Its website features information on climate change, commentary from Eliasson on the need for a "physical wake-up call" on the climate challenges we face - he argues that "perception and physical experience" are vital facets of both art and activism - and, most chillingly, a quietly devastating soundtrack that is the crack and drip of melting ice. The exhibit ran this week, ending today. In an interview, Eliasson said they planned to distribute the remaining pieces of ice to Copenhagen schools to continue the discussion, but none was left.