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50% of All Species on Earth Gone by 2100?

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The multimedia event entitled “illUmiNations: Protecting Our Planet” was a key component of Climate Week, leading up to the U.N. Climate Summit set to begin on Tuesday, September 23. The overwhelming images set the stage for Sunday’s People’s Climate March which attracted over 310,000 protesters from all over the world to the streets of Manhattan.

The 30-story architectural projection show was organized in partnership with the United Nations Department of Public Information, the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) and Obscura Digital with the intention of inspiring global citizens to take action on climate change. The towering 11-minute display also included photographs taken by the French environmental photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Brazilian social documentarian Sebastião Salgado.

Additional artists contributing photography to the show included James Balog, William Coupon, David Doubilet, Earth Vision Trust, Jerry Greenberg, Michael Greenberg, Howard and Michelle Hall, David Hannan, Shawn Heinrichs, Frans Lanting, Steve McCurry, Plankton Chronicles, Joel Sartore, Louie Schwartzbert, and Daniel Stoupin.

The projections told the story of climate change and highlighted actions that governments, businesses, industry and civil society can take to shift toward a low-carbon economy and strengthen adaptation strategies.

"Now is the time to take decisive action on climate change."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has made the issue part of his personal agenda, praised the sensory-image display for using film and photography to make an emotional impact that would resonate.

“Now is the time to take decisive action on climate change. Protecting our planet is the responsibility of each and every one of us. We must make our voices heard. These exceptional projections being shown at the United Nations will help draw attention to the need to make climate action a reality in every community and every society,” said the Secretary-General.

OPS, known for producing the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove,” will be using the crowd’s reaction to the eye-popping images as part of the final scene of its upcoming documentary, ‪”Racing Extinction‬.” Utilizing state-of-the-art equipment, director Louie Psihoyos assembled a team of artists and activists intent on showing the world never-before-seen images that expose issues of endangered species and mass extinction. “Racing Extinction,” set for release in 2015, will show audiences how humans are on course to wipe out 50% of all species on earth by 2100, what it declares will be the biggest global catastrophe since an asteroid wiped out dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Using a FLIR infrared camera, the film will show audiences how CO2 emissions, normally invisible to the human eye, impact every part of our daily lives and the world we live in.

illUmiNations: Protecting our Planet from Oceanic Preservation Society on Vimeo.

The event set an emotional tone for the upcoming one-day Summit, where President Barack Obama and other global leaders from government, finance, business, and the entertainment industry will gather to discuss how nations can reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015, aimed at limiting the world to a 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.

The Secretary General said he was “humbled by the overwhelming response” and urged world leaders to come to the summit with “bold ideas” on how to tackle climate change and carbon pollution.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, and actor and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio will also be taking part in the historic summit.

“We are behind schedule, but we still do have time — just,” former Vice President Al Gore said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Obscura Digital has staged similar large-scale architectural mapping projection events on the Sydney Opera House, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Other key project partners for illUmiNations include Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea, Vulcan Productions, and Millennium ART.

The event was funded by TheDodo.com and the Lerer Family Foundation as well as an anonymous donor.

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