10 Stunning Images Show Human's Huge Impact on the Earth
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.
"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.
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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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
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