Page 1

In this exhibition you will find out, among other things, that you consist of biomass and that the rain forests, coral reefs and sea can be transformed into money. The exhibition deals with issues regarding our relationship to the biosphere – that thin layer around the earth where we live, which supports human existance. It’s about the complex relationship between climate change, norms, ethics and economics. All of this is interpreted and visualised by the artists Lars Arrhenius and Eric Ericson in collaboration with Svenskt Tenn’s curator, Karin Södergren. Svenskt Tenn is owned by a foundation and the whole surplus is given to research, education and cultural projects. Over the years, 188 million sek has been donated to these causes, which has led to valuable discoveries and solutions in areas such as medicine and the correlation between economics and ecology. The exhibition has been generously funded by the Kjell and Märta Beijer foundation.

Welcome to the biosphere 23.8–27.10 2019

Life Forms

Human beings control large portions of the earth’s biomass. Today just 4 per cent of the world’s mammals live in the wild. That is to say, the risk of being attacked by wild animals has been significantly reduced. As such, human beings are safer today than they were before.

Biological life on earth is made up of biomass and is found in the biosphere. The biosphere — a roughly 20-kilometre-thick layer surrounding the earth — can be described as an enormous ecosystem. Contained within it are all of earth’s smaller ecosystems, for instance, coral reefs and rain forests.

60 per cent livestock. 36 per cent human beings. The rest: wild mammals.

Life on earth began roughly 4.5 billion years ago. Over time single cell organisms developed into, among other things, middle managers. People make up 0.01 per cent of all living life on the planet. Since the dawn of our civilisation we’ve reduced the mass of vegetation by 50 per cent and the total mass of mammals by 85 per cent. We’ve been more result-oriented than ever over the past 50 years. In this short time, a full 50 per cent of all mammals on earth have been eradicated. Society is also found in the biosphere. Two hundred years ago 90 per cent of its inhabitants were country dwellers. Today 85 per cent of Sweden’s population live in urban areas.

People are born, people die. Biomass can be transformed into many things, including golf course greens.

Fake news! I refuse to accept that I live in the biosphere and consist of biomass.

Biomass comes in different shapes and sizes. It can materialise as security officers, beggars or consumers. Biomass is common to every social group and comes in varying degrees of attractiveness. You too consist of biomass.

The task of a transit system is to transport biomass. Every day, Stockholm Public Transport carries 67,635 tonnes of biomass to and from home, work and leisure activities. In order for biomass to function in groups, established norms are essential.

Threshold Effects

Here are a few effects of carbon dioxide emissions: A warmer climate leads to more forest fires. Forests are carbon sinks that capture carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is released when forests catch fire. This in turn creates an even warmer climate with even more forest fires.

Due to warmer ocean temperatures and the ice melting in the Arctic, the effects of the Gulf Stream have diminished by 15 per cent since the 1950s. Melting ice leads to higher sea levels. How high and how quickly the sea rises depends on how much the climate changes and the level of carbon dioxide emissions.

Climate change leads to more than drought. According to calculations, we can also expect extreme rainfall. When the permafrost melts, a powerful greenhouse gas called methane is released. This makes the climate hotter — which means even more methane will be released.

Domino effects can occur if the earth’s average temperature rises more than 2 degrees. It’s likely that the temperature* will keep rising without any human intervention at all. At first this uncontrolled process leads to us having a longer barbecue season; it will end with the earth’s climate being about like it is on the planet Venus. 1° C — 3° C An extra two weeks of barbecue season. 3° C —5° C An extra four weeks of barbecue season. 5° C

Arctic winter sea-ice

Greenland Ice Sheet

No need to barbecue.

Arctic summer sea-ice

Global greenhouse gas emissions are approximately 37.1 billion tonnes per year.


Boreal forest Jet Stream

Alone glaciers

Thermohaline circulation Sahel

El Niño Southern Oscillation

Industry: 19 per cent

Buildings: 11,5 per cent

Indian summer monsoon

Transport: 19,5 per cent

Amazon rainforest

Electricity Consumption: 29,3 per cent

Agriculture: 11,3 per cent

*It’s important to note that not all researchers believe in climate change and its effects. An estimated 1 per cent of researchers question the very existence of climate change.

Coral reefs

Other: 9,4 per cent

West Antarctic Ice Sheet

East Antarctic Ice Sheet

Plastic Plastic is manufactured almost exclusively using fossil-based raw materials derived from crude oil. In 2005 the annual consumption of plastic per person in the industrialised world was 100 kilos. Plastic is a durable material. It takes nature 600 years to break down a fishing line and 450 years for a plastic bottle. After the product has decomposed, the essence of the plastic lingers in the form of microplastic particles. Estimates suggest that by 2050 there will be as much plastic in the ocean as there are fish. Researchers have measured high levels of plastic particles in the air. Since it’s free to breathe, the material can be shared by every­ one. As such, plastic can be seen as an aspect of democratization.

There is an island in the Pacific Ocean that is three times the surface area of Sweden. The island consists of 1.6 million square kilometres of plastic and weighs 80 million tonnes. You could say it’s a marker of economic prosperity and growth.

Microplastic has been found in the stomachs of nearly every third mackerel and every tenth flounder caught in the Baltic Sea, as well as in every third cod caught in the English Channel. Microplastic has been found in farmed blue mussels and oysters from both the North Sea and the Atlantic.

50 years for a plastic cup. 450 years for a disposable nappy, same for PET bottles. A fishing line takes 600 years. This is how long it takes for plastic to decompose.

My name is Abdi, and I’m an average person in Somalia. I emit 0.05 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

My name is Marie, and I’m an average person in Sweden. I emit 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The Nuclear Family The family is made up of biomass and lives in the biosphere. However family members are more likely to say that they live in a neighbourhood in a medium-sized Swedish city. Families living in two-storey houses eat biomass in the form of veal, potatoes and peas.

Norms — unwritten rules, ideas and ideals — are prerequisites for a functioning society. Norms serve as a type of civic compass or as society’s security guards. Complying with norms leads to acceptance, validation, and a sense of belonging. Examples of existing norms: – Heterosexual families with two children. It’s a plus if the age difference between the children does not exceed two years. – Men have a higher status than women. – Eating meat, working well in groups and thriving.

The production of livestock accounts for approximately 15 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Man and vehicle are the norm. Fossil fuels are made of biomass that is stored underground for millions of years. The process is similar to the production of mead. In the spring, around the same time as the blackbird starts singing, man takes out his vehicles. Status and manhood are expressed in decibels and by the price tag on the vehicle. Fuel plays an important part in communicating a masculine identity.

Trips by car = 0.97 tonnes carbon dioxide per person per year.

Flights = 1.1 tonnes carbon dioxide per person per year.

Average carbon dioxide emissions per capita in Sweden

Certain factions of society don’t want a longer barbecue season. These groups believe that we must reduce our annual emissions from 11 tons per person to under 2 tons before the year 2050.

Meat consumption = 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year.

One child = 58.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year (based on the projected emissions of all future off­spring and current patterns of consumption).

Meat-eating is the norm and is often associated with qualities such as strength, power and virility. In many cultures meat is associated with masculinity and considered to be an irreplaceable food for men. Studies show that men’s and women’s meat consumption differs and that women have an easier time abstaining from meat. To deprive a man of his meat would be as grave an action as taking away his fossil fuels.

Eating meat is the norm. Heeding norms leads to group acceptance. In 2018 meat consumption in Sweden was 83.5 kilos per person.

Animal feed often consists of soya and is commonly imported from Brazil. The very thought of it delights me.

Growth Nature is a dead surface that only the financial world can bring to life. The bio- and geospheres are refined and transformed into coveted user-friendly products. Five companies account for 90 per cent of the world’s palm oil production. Palm oil is commonly found in food, biofuel and shampoo, for instance. In order to satisfy the consumer demand, the rain forest is being converted into plantations. The demand for meat is increasing worldwide. So not only are rain forests being transformed into palm oil plantations, but they are also being turned into pastures for beef cattle. Vegans can rejoice over the fact that the rain forest is being cleared to cultivate soybeans.


Paper and carton / 10 companies



Palm oil / 5 companies



Cocoa / 3 companies



Soybeans / 8 companies



Bananas / 3 companies


Want to contribute more than you already do? Ask your bank to recommend some stocks and funds! Coffee / 10 companies

About half of all packaged foods contain palm oil, which is a carcinogenic substance. That’s why I’ve invested in a fund tied to healthcare, pharmaceuticals and the processing of rain forests. Since packaging is often made of plastic, I’m investing in oil, too.

Seeds and Grains / 3 companies



Fertiliser / 10 companies

Pharmaceuticals of animal origin / 10 companies



Gold / 10 companies

Silver / 10 companies

Farmed salmon / 5 companies


Cement / 10 companies


Zinc / 10 companies

Power and processing! Transnational companies offer more than just products and services. They contribute to reshaping the world’s oceans, atmosphere and habitats on land. Have a look at the pictogram above to see estimates of the global concentration of industries that have a direct or indirect impact on the earth. The sectors show varying degrees of consolidation as, for example, export, market share, manufacturing, trade volumes and access to natural resources.

Wild catch / 13 companies


Gas / 10 companies


Copper / 10 companies

Insecticide and insect repellent / 4 companies


Oil / 10 companies


Iron / 10 companies



From an economic perspective, the biosphere is unique. It has strong developmental potential. Rain forests, coral reefs and the sea can be refined and converted into currency. This is what it takes to make the world go round.

Anthropocene: The term refers to the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on the climate and the environment. Humans have achieved this by using important tools such as leadership and norms. Thanks to oil, the business of large-scale refining can be considered a success. Food exists because of oil. Healthcare exists because of oil. Infrastructure exists because of oil. Company pensions exist because of oil. Public transport exists because of oil. Growth exists because of oil. Heating exists because of oil. Work exists because of oil. Leisure time exists because of oil. Welfare exists because of oil. Society exists because of oil. You exist because of oil.

Constructive: The economy is the fundament on which society rests. Economics make up the main circle in the pictogram, which looks a bit like Mickey Mouse. The environment and society can be seen as peripheral issues. Women, children and regressive groups can focus on the peripheral issues. Meanwhile, men will generate economic growth.

Destructive: The standard of living is improving — in Sweden and the world over. Regressive forces are also at work. The above pictogram shows how a different economic model may pose a threat to masculine identity as well as to large segments of trade and industry.

The Battle The earth is a chessboard upon which people are locked in battle against the biosphere. You could say that oil is our ally in this fight. If the biosphere gets the upper hand, development will regress. People will go back to being apes.

Profile for Svenskt Tenn AB

Welcome To The Biosphere  

In this exhibition you will find out, among other things, that you consist of biomass and that the rain forests, coral reefs and sea can be...

Welcome To The Biosphere  

In this exhibition you will find out, among other things, that you consist of biomass and that the rain forests, coral reefs and sea can be...