From the frontiers of climate change comes Consequences by NOOR. Featuring the work of nine internationally acclaimed photographers, this exhibition documents the devastating effects of climate change around the globe. These stunning photographs by the highlighted photographers (seen below) show not what might happen in the future but what is happening today.
Nina BermanNina Berman | British Columbia | Pine Beetles
USA, 1960 – Nina Berman’s long-term projects have focused primarily on the American political and social landscape. She is best known for her portraits of wounded soldiers returning from Iraq. She is the author of two books, Purple Hearts and Homeland, both of which deal with war and militarism. Her work is widely exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards in art and journalism including World Press Photo, the Open Society Institute and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is on the faculty of the International Center of Photography (ICP) in her hometown of New York City, where she resides.
Since 1990, more than 36 million acres of pine forests in British Columbia have been decimated by the mountain pine beetle. Experts predict that by 2014 at least 80 percent of the pines in British Columbia will be dead. No larger than a grain of rice, the pine beetle is endemic in the Rocky Mountains of western North America. Winter temperatures below minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit once kept the beetle in check. Warming trends have permitted the beetle larvae to survive the winter and proliferate at an astounding rate in forests from Mexico to Canada. Mature pine trees, weakened by drought, cannot withstand the onslaught, and as the beetle multiplies, younger trees also are falling prey.
Dead trees are fodder for wildfires. The beetle kill has wreaked havoc on the economy of regions dependent upon logging and tourism. Authorities acknowledge that man cannot stop the rampage of the pine beetle. The beetle will eat until it runs out of food or until deeply cold winter temperatures return to kill its larvae.
“I felt,” says Berman, “like I was seeing a cataclysmic shift in our understanding of what forests look like.”
Pep BonetPep Bonet | Poland | Blackfield’s
Spain, 1974 – Pep’s work focuses on African issues and long-term projects. His work on social issues such as HIV/Aids has led to two photography books and 35 exhibitions worldwide. His most known work is “Faith in Chaos,” an ongoing photo essay on the aftermath of the war in Sierra Leone. Pep finished his long-term project on Somalia last year. He was the 2005 winner of the Eugene Smith Humanistic Grant, in addition to other international grants and prizes. Pep lives in Mallorca.
Poland is one of the largest producers of coal in Europe and, not coincidentally, also one of the continent’s most polluted countries. The Upper Silesian Coal Basin in Poland, where coal has been mined for more than 150 years, is thick with mines, steel mills, coke ovens and chemical plants. Waste from these industries fills hundreds of dumps across the region. Smoke from coal-fired plants pollutes the air. Runoff from the mines has contaminated the groundwater, streams and lakes. Underground exploration has caused irreparable damage to the landscape. In Poland, 93 percent of the energy comes from burning coal—a major producer of greenhouse gases. Despite the reforms of the last decade, coal mining remains a dangerous and dirty business.
Stanley Greene | Greenland | Shadows of Change
USA, 1949 – Stanley Greene has worked extensively all over the world. His most well-known body of work is his coverage of the war in Chechnya, from which he released “Open Wound” in 2003. He is a recipient of the Eugene Smith Humanistic Grant and numerous other awards. His most recent work documents the trail of drugs and disease through Afghanistan. Stanley is based in New York.
“This weather does not belong to us. It belongs to someone else. If we don’t have ice, we are going to die.” With this prediction, an Inuit hunter sums up the dire situation for the indigenous peoples who live in northern and eastern Greenland. Nowhere on Earth, perhaps, is the evidence of climate change more apparent.
The ice that covers 80 percent of the world’s largest island is disappearing at the rate of 7 percent a year, a rate that has accelerated substantially in recent years. In some places, the ice shelf is already too thin to permit the Inuit to travel to traditional hunting grounds. The permafrost is also melting, producing a land that is boggy, unstable for buildings and difficult to cross by the traditional sleds. Worst-case scenarios predict that the carbon released by the melting permafrost could equal all the carbon already in the Earth’s atmosphere. The Inuit, who survived for centuries by hunting seals and whales, are watching their way of life disappear before their very eyes.
Jan GrarupJan Grarup | Darfur | A Climate Conflict
Denmark, 1968 – Over the last 20 years, Jan has traveled the world documenting many of the defining moments of history. From the fall of the communist regime in Romania to the occupation of Iraq, he has covered numerous wars and conflicts, including the genocide in Rwanda. Jan has documented daily life on both sides of the intifada with his stories “The boys from Ramallah” and “The boys from Hebron.” In 2006 he published the book “Shadowland”. His forthcoming book, “Darfur: A Silent Genocide”, will be published in 2009 by Trolley. Jan is a recipient of numerous awards and resides in Copenhagen.
Since 2003 at least 300,000 people have died in Darfur, Sudan, the victims of fighting, slaughter, starvation, malnutrition and disease. Two to three million people have been forced from their homes to wander a landscape withered by drought. Widely seen as a genocide perpetrated by the Janjaweed, armed partisans from the mostly Afro-Arab herding tribes in the north, upon the non-Muslim Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit farmers, the fighting in Darfur is about scarcity as much as ethnicity. As U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon told The Washington Post, the conflict in Darfur “grew at least in part from desertification, ecological degradation and a scarcity of resources, foremost among them water.”
Yuri KozyrevYuri Kozyrev | Russia | Karabash and the Yamal Peninsula
Russia, 1963 – A native of Russia, Yuri has covered every major conflict in the former Soviet Union – including two Chechen wars – since becoming a professional photojournalist twenty years ago. Immediately after September 11, 2001, he was on the scene in Afghanistan, where he documented the fall of the Taliban. He has spent much of the past six years in Baghdad, working for Time magazine. Yuri has received numerous honors for his photography, including four World Press Photo awards and the OPC Oliver Rebbot Award in 2004. In 2006, he was the recipient of the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award for photojournalism. Yuri is based in Moscow.
One of the most polluted cities in the world, Karabash in the Chelyabinskaya region of the southern Ural Mountains in Russia is burdened with the dirty legacy of copper mining, chemical and heavy metal emissions and radiation leaks. The smokestack of the Karabash Copper Smelting Works has been spewing 180 tons of sulfur dioxide and metal particulates into the air a year for almost a century. Closed in 1990 when Soviet officials proclaimed it an “environmental disaster zone,” the plant was reopened eight years later because the region needed jobs. Black heaps of industrial waste tower 45 feet high around homes and apartments. Recently, the new owner of the smelter, the Russian Copper Company, has modernized the plant and installed filters to greatly reduce plant emissions. But for the residents of Karabash, the contamination of the past remains ever present.
The Yamal Peninsula
In the language of the indigenous Nenet, “Yamal” means “world’s end.” This 435-mile long peninsula in northwestern Siberia is home to both 42,000 Nenet and the largest natural gas reserve in the world. For a thousand years, the Nenet have herded their domesticated reindeer to summer pastures above the Arctic Circle. But now, the Nenet’s traditional way of life is threatened by warming temperatures that turn the tundra into a boggy swamp and by the world’s rapacious appetite for natural gas. With the gas wells have come railroad tracks and natural gas pipelines that bisect herding routes and cause reindeer to break legs. Fish, once an abundant dietary staple, also have diminished; the Nenet blame offshore drilling. The Ob River, which the Nenet must cross to return to their southern pastures, freezes later than ever before, forcing reindeer to forage longer in depleted winter pastures.
LohuizenKadir van Lohuizen | Brazil | Clearing the Land
the Netherlands, 1963 – Kadir has covered conflicts in Africa and elsewhere, but is probably best known for his projects on seven rivers of the world and the diamond industry. He has received numerous prizes, including two World Press Photo awards. He is on the supervisory board of World Press Photo and has published four photo books. Kadir is based in Amsterdam and New York.
The rainforests of the Brazilian Amazon, the most biologically diverse place on Earth, are shrinking by tens of thousands of square kilometers a year. About 60 to 70 percent of that deforestation occurs as ranchers cut, burn and bulldoze trees, often illegally, to create pastures for the country’s burgeoning cattle industry. In recent years, Brazil has become the largest exporter of beef and, not coincidentally, the third largest polluter in the world, after China and the United States. Fires from the burning forests and the ovens that heat the wood into charcoal fill the skies. The cattle, too, are responsible for methane gases. “Every year in the dry season, the rainforest is burning. If it’s not the rainforest, it’s the pastures,” says Lohuizen. Even nature preserves, such as Terra do Meio, are not safe from the illegal deforestation.
Jon LowensteinJon Lowenstein | Canada | In the Oil Sands
USA, 1970 – Over the last 10 years, Jon has specialized in long-term, in-depth documentary photographic projects which question the status quo. In 2000 he started his ongoing project about Mexican immigration to the United States. Jon has been documenting the South Side Chicago community for the past eight years and his recent work includes stories from Central America and South Africa. Jon was recently named a 2008 Alicia Patterson Fellow and garnered the 2007 Getty Award for Editorial Images. Jon resides in Chicago.
The oil sands of Alberta, Canada, represent the second largest source of crude oil in the world, behind Saudi Arabia. Beneath an area the size of Montana are an estimated 170.4 billion barrels of crude oil. Unlike conventional crude oil, which is pumped from deep within the earth, oil sands are a mixture of sand, clay, water and bitumen, found near the surface. Mining and refining the oil sands is an expensive process, but with the rise in the price per barrel of oil, it has become profitable—very profitable indeed. The small town of Fort McMurray, known to its residents as Fort McMoney, has exploded with the influx of oil patch workers from around the globe, and Canada’s coffers have swelled with billions in royalties. But there is a downside. Oil sand mining degrades the landscape, pollutes the water and with its associated refining industries accounts for 5 percent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Francesco ZizolaFrancesco Zizola | Maldives | A Paradise in Peril
Italy, 1962 – Francesco has photographed the world’s major conflicts and its hidden crises. His latest book “Iraq,” published with Amnesty International (2007), documents the beginning of Iraq II, a never-ending war – a war without witnesses, a war which has become off limits for photographers. His book “Born Somewhere” (2004) was the result of 13 years covering the situation of children around the world in 28 countries. Francesco has received numerous international awards and prizes, including the World Press Photo of the Year in 1996, documenting the tragedy of land mines in Angola, seven World Press Photo awards and four Pictures of the Year Awards. Francesco lives in Rome.
The Indian Ocean island nation of Maldives is the lowest lying country in the world. As the oceans fill with water from melting glaciers, this tropical paradise will be the first country on the planet to slip below the waves. Experts predict that within the next 15 years, rising sea levels will force the island’s 396,000 residents to migrate elsewhere. Other islands and coastal regions around the world face similar threats. Migrations forced by rising sea levels will disproportionately affect poor nations and the developing world as climate refugees overwhelm neighboring countries.
In the Maldives, a nation dependent upon tourism and fishing, economic development has worsened the problem. Protective coral reefs are mined for building material, refuse piles up, fresh water supplies are threatened. In October, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet donned scuba gear and held a meeting 20 feet underwater to publicize the island’s plight and call on developed nations to curb carbon emissions.
“We do not want to leave the Maldives,” Nasheed said, “but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades.”
Philip BlenkinsopPhilip Blenkinsop | India | The Fires Within: The burning coalfields of Jharia, India
Blenkinsop has been described as ‘A man of guerrillas and of resistances,’ (Herve Le Goff) and ‘One of the most essential photographers of his generation.’ (Christian Caujolle)
Since arriving in Asia in 1989, Blenkinsop’s name has become synonymous with forgotten conflicts.
Blenkinsop is adamant that the photographer should never censor scenes through the camera. “Photographers are both witnesses and messengers. Our responsibility must always lie with the people we focus on, and with the accurate depiction of their plight, regardless of how unpalatable this might be for magazine readers.”
His work, published in international arenas, has been the catalyst for much discussion and amongst other accolades was awarded Amnesty International’s Photojournalism prize for excellence in human rights journalism.
The author of two books, The Cars That Ate Bangkok (White Lotus), and Extreme Asie (Photopoche Societe), Blenkinsop continues to live in Asia and has been focusing on the environment for the last two years.
Under Jharia’s crust, lies one of the largest coal deposits in India. But for the people who live above an inferno, Jharia is a condemned place. For almost a century, fires have burned uncontrolled in the mines beneath Jharia, polluting the air with poisonous fumes and splitting the ground with dangerous fissures. For the impoverished residents of Jharia, stealing coal to sell and picking through collapsed buildings for salvageable material is a dangerous way of life. And now, with the earth literally collapsing beneath their feet, they face an ecological disaster.