By Sudhanshu Malhotra
It's a tough call to select 10 images from the more than 18,000 that Greenpeace has produced in the last 12 months. But this selection gave me a chance to look back at the amazing work that's happening across the world.
These are not the most beautiful images, but they represent the diversity of the movement. They are a testimony to the courage and willingness of people power to fight for a better future. They define the role of photography in activism. They have the power to transfer the energy and emotions to its audiences; to tell a story that is untold or an event that cannot be put in words.
We have images from Indigenous communities in the Amazon to coral reefs in Australia, from forest fires in Indonesia to inspiring protests by grandparents in Japan. This was also the year when world leaders finally agreed to take steps towards controlling climate change after thousands of people marched across cities around the world to break free from fossil fuels.
The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu in the heart of the Amazon, for generations. The Brazilian government had planned to build a series of dams in the Tapajos River basin, which would severely threaten their way of life. In addition to preserving their way of life, the demarcation of Sawré Muybu ensures the conservation of 178,000 hectares of Amazonian rainforest. Find out more here.
People hold hands on a beach in Molyvos, Lesbos, calling for safe passage and no more deaths. The activity was held in solidarity with other protests across Europe, as thousands of people in more than 100 cities marched in support of refugee rights. Find out more here.
As the Paris climate conference entered the closing stretch, Greenpeace activists created a solar symbol around the world-famous Paris landmark, the Arc de Triomphe. Activists painted the road yellow with a non-polluting water-based paint to reveal the image of a huge shining sun.
This image reminded people, but especially politicians and governments that whatever they agreed, the only credible way to beat climate change is to quickly transition to renewable energy.
Drone footage revealed the impact of repeated fires on the forest near the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera oil palm concession in West Kalimantan, Indoneesia. Plantation for palm oil are one of the biggest drivers of deforestation and peatland draining—a practice that can lead to forest fires.
Aerial view of a FAD (fish aggregating device) at night. Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, was in the Indian Ocean to document and peacefully oppose destructive fishing practices.
Albacore tuna is stacked and weighed before being shipped for processing into canned tuna. Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Rainbow, spent month in the Pacific Ocean in 2015 to expose illegal and undocumented fishing operation. Tuna fishing has been linked to shark finning, overfishing, and human rights abuses.
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing its worst bleaching event to date with studies showing 93 percent of the reef being affected. Bleaching is caused by the warmer temperature of the waters brought about by the El Nino system.
Parts of the reef have been damaged by cyclones, the severity and frequency of which will also increase as global temperatures rise.
A U.S. military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa has been a source of conflict for decades. The expansion of one base will wipe out the seagrass bed which is home to the few remaining Japanese dugong.
The vast majority of the local community are against the expansion of the military bases. In this image taken from protests in 2015, police carried elderly protesters away from the entrance of Camp Schwab. Many of the protestors are elderly people who try to block the entrance using their bodies. Find out more here.
A protester wears a farmer's hat with the words "Break Free" during a protest in front of the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Thousands of people took to the streets in a carnival atmosphere to urge the government to end Indonesia's addiction to coal.
The demonstration was organized by WALHI, Greenpeace Indonesia and JATAM. The marchers carried banners calling for Indonesia to reject coal in favour of clean renewable energy and to honor, the commitment made in the Paris agreement last year to reduce the country's carbon emissions.
Acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi performs one of his own compositions on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, in front of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier (in Svalbard, Norway).
The composition, Elegy for the Arctic, was inspired by eight million voices from around the world calling for Arctic protection. The Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise carried Einaudi, the grand piano, and eight million voices to Svalbard. Greenpeace was urging the OSPAR Commission that meets that week in Tenerife, not to miss the opportunity to protect international Arctic waters under its mandate. Find out more here.
Sudhanshu Malhotra is the multimedia editor for Greenpeace East Asia.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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