A World of Change
The Lasting Environmental Legacy of SPLASH HATCH
In 1997, Kia Corthron’s play SPLASH HATCH ON THE E GOING DOWN had its world premiere. The play addressed issues of climate change and environmental racism at a time when these topics were only beginning to enter the public consciousness. 26 years later, Kia’s play remains as relevant as ever: conversations in the script about unseasonal heat waves, lead poisoning and holes in the ozone layer mirror those we are still having in our own lives. How much have things changed since 1997? Or have they changed at all?
Maximum temperature in New York City, April
Average temperature in New York City, April
SPLASH HATCH ON THE E GOING DOWN is set in Harlem, New York City and was written in 1997. In the play, Thyme says “The ten hottest years on record all happened in the last decade and a half.” As of 2023, the hottest ten years on record have all happened in the last 13 years. Further, people of color are exposed to more extreme urban heat than white people in almost every major U.S. city. (Data: NOAA, Weather Underground, Nature)
Children (under age 6) in Milwaukee County considered “lead poisoned”
Lead poisoning, a pertinent issue in the play, has decreased significantly for children in Milwaukee County since 1997, but in the City of Milwaukee alone, there are an estimated 66,000 lead pipes and service lines, in addition to lead used in paint and other buidling materials. “The highest concentrations of lead-poisoned children have historically been clustered in the near north side, which is home to majority Black residents,” says the Journal Sentinel. (Data: Wisconsin Department of Health Services)
Average Antarctic Ozone Hole Size
22.1 million km2
23.2 million km2
Average Minimum Ozone Concentration
108.8 Dobson Units (DU)
112.5 Dobson Units (DU)
“1985 they discovered that hole, crack in the ozone glass … This flaw cannot be repaired, welded, this mistake took us down to the point of no return,” says Thyme. In fact, thanks to the international ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), global ozone levels have become relatively stable, and estimates suggest the size of the hole in the ozone layer will return to pre-1980 levels by about 2075. Still, problems continue to occur, such as a spike in CFC levels in 2018. (Data: NASA)
SPLASH HATCH ON THE E GOING DOWN runs September 20 – October 15, 2023 at Next Act Theatre. For tickets, click here or call (414) 278-0765.