CAIRO – More than 200 students and environmental activists gathered Friday in the desert outside Egypt's capital to form an image of a giant scarab visible from space to raise climate change awareness.
The image of the beetle holding a sun in its pinchers — a symbol of resurrection for the ancient Egyptians — was documented by a satellite and a photographer working atop an onsite crane.
Similar photos have been taken or are planned in 12 places around the world in what organizers says is the first international climate art project.
The initiative is named Project 350 for what scientists say is the safest maximum level of carbon units in the atmosphere. The current level is estimated at more than 380 units.
Organizers say they aim to reach those world leaders who don't believe climate change is a problem and to push for more aggressive emission cuts.
A United Nations climate conference is scheduled for next week in Cancun, Mexico.
Other photographed images — all of them using people — have included a giant elephant in New Delhi, an eagle in Los Angeles and a cyclone in Mexico City.
Egypt has a lot to lose from effects of climate change such as rising sea levels. Activists and scientists have warned that much of the Nile Delta, Egypt's agricultural lifeline, could disappear if sea levels rise, in addition to higher temperatures drying up the country's already limited water sources.
"The Nile Delta is one of the three most vulnerable places to climate change in the world," said Sarah Rafaat, a graphic designer and activist who organized the event.
"It's a very strong statement, that in a developing country, youth want to do something about this," she said.
Among the participants were students Haggar Yasser and Reem Hemida, who heard about the event from their school principal. The agreed that their generation was going to have to deal with any effects of climate change and said they hoped world leaders would sit up and listen.
"They should know more about the world," said Yasser. "They should care more."