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10 Stunning Images Show Human's Huge Impact on the Earth

Climate

Over the course of human history, man's ongoing destruction of the environment has forever altered our natural surroundings.

Proof of humanity's devastating footprint on Earth can be seen in these stunning images below, graciously provided to EcoWatch by the organizers of FotoFest, an internationally known photographic arts and learning nonprofit based in Houston, Texas.

Unaltered Stomach Contents of a Laysan Albatross Fledgling, Midway Island, 2010
. From the series Midway: Message from the Gyre, 2009 - 2016. 
Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist Chris Jordan

FotoFest is hosting their 2016 Biennial, a citywide exhibition which runs March 11 through April 24 under the theme “Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet.”

The exhibition will address all the major aspects of anthropocene—or, broadly, the age of man. In these photos, you'll see marine debris and ocean plastics that have choked our waterways and aquatic life; how mining and drilling for Earth's precious resources has destroyed our landscape and spewed emissions that warm the atmosphere and melt glaciers; and how mountains of trash are left to rot in ever-growing landfills.

SOUP: Refused, 2011. 
Ingredient: plastic oceanic debris affected by the chewing and attempted injestion by animals. Includes a toothpaste tube. Photo credit: 
Courtesy of the artist Mandy Barker

The exhibition is a collaboration between FotoFest co-founders Wendy Watriss and Fred Baldwin and FotoFest executive director Steven Evans. Watriss and Baldwin have been developing the concept for the past five years and Evans wanted make it the focus of the FotoFest 2016 Biennial.

"After many years of doing environmental programming at FotoFest for over 20 years and recent discussions with many scientists, policy-makers and artists across the world, we thought it was to take a new approach to 'looking at' the relationship of human society to the Earth," Watriss told EcoWatch.

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"The work selected by FotoFest for this 2016 Biennial looks at the beauty and diversity of life on Earth alongside the imprint that human beings are leaving on the planet. Collectively these works can be seen as a call to a new vision, a new way of seeing the Earth and our relationship to it."

Girls with Sacks, 2007. 
Young girls drag sacks of rubbish they collected during a days work. They walk across a heavy steel plate roadway which stops heavy vehicles sinking into the rubbish.
 From the series Smokey Mountain and Recycling Phnom Penh, 2007-2010. 
Photo credit: Courtesy of artist Nigel Dickinson

 

To create the Pictures of Garbage series, Vik Muniz worked with the catadores, or pickers, from the world’s largest landfill: Jardim Gramacho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist Vik Muniz

The artworks at the exhibition depict topics such as climate change, industrialization and urbanization, biodiversity, water, the use of natural and human resources, human migration, global capital, commerce and consumption, energy production and waste.

"It is time again to 'see' the beauty and wonder of this planet. How do we stimulate people to actually care about the Earth and what is happening to it? What can art do in this regard?" Watriss said. "We have found that many artists are looking at these same questions and exploring how they, as individuals and members of a society, relate to the natural world around them."

Titan Crane, Hotellneset Coal Harbour, Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, Norway, 2012
. From the series The Metabolic Landscape, 2011-2016. Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist Gina Glover

The exhibition will feature pieces from artists who hail from nine countries across Europe, Asia, and North and South America.  Many of the artists will travel to Houston to participate in lectures, tours and other programs during the Biennial.

Scroll down to the photos at the bottom of this post, and you'll notice that mankind is finding ways to survive on a warming planet, where hurricanes are getting stronger and droughts are hitting harder.

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From renewable energy to green buildings and rooftops, many of us are making positive changes to mitigate a global catastrophe. At least we have to before it's too late.

AfterRip, 2015. 
From the series Afterfracking. 
Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist Roberto Fernández Ibáñez

 

Silver Lake Operations # 1, Lake Lefroy, Western Australia, Australia, 2007
. From the series Mines, 2007. Photo credit: 
Courtesy of the artist Edward Burtynsky

 

Water collects in unnamed seasonal lake atop the Greenland ice sheet, 75 miles southeast of Ilulissat. With the Earth’s warming climate, the melt season now stretches 70 days longer than it did in the early 1970s, 2014
. From the series Greenland
. Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist Daniel Beltrán and Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

 

From the series The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar. Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist Jamey Stillings

 

Lurie Children’s Memorial (looking Southwest) – Chicago, IL May, 2012. 
From the series Rooftop.
 Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist Brad Temkin and Innova Art LTD

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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

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Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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