Dec 11, 2009
MSNBC – Ahead of the global climate talks in December 2009, nine photographers from the photo agency NOOR photographed climate stories from around the world. Their goal: to document some of the causes and consequences, from deforestation to changing sea levels, as well as the people whose lives and jobs are part of the carbon culture. There are four exhibits featuring northern communities.
Hunters like Ole Jorgen Hammeken increasingly feed their dogs halibut since there’s less meat from polar bears, whales, walruses or seals. “Once one piece of the hunter’s life disappears,” says photographer Stanley Greene, “then it all starts to melt away, just like the ice that is going away, and soon the hunters of Uummannaq may disappear as well. Without good ice they cannot survive, and without ice they are no longer ‘Kings of the Ice,’ and then they are nothing at all.”
In British Columbia, beetles have laid waste to 35 million acres — an area the size of New York state — and are expected to kill 80 percent of its lodgepole pines. “To the untrained eye, the (beetle) attack appears beautiful at first,” says photographer Nina Berman. “Swaths of green trees turn red, like autumn leaves changing. But these pines are evergreens, and a color shift is a sign of inevitable mortality. From red, the leaves turn purple, brown and finally gray. At this point, they can no longer stand and wither to the ground, their pine cones dried out and scattered across the forest floor, their branches ready fuel for fires.”
“Many of the residents in Fort McMurray were concerned that this would just be another negative story about the oil industry and reflect poorly on their town,” photographer Jon Lowenstein says. “I have tried as much as possible to tell the whole tale and connect the dots. Yes, there is great environmental destruction and impact by the mining of the land, and yet we are all complicit. I fill my car more than once a week with at least 15 gallons of gasoline. I am a part of this story and tried to take that attitude when telling it.”
This Nenet, Vasilyi Ivanovich, is the elder of his tribe. Some 42,000 Nenets live along the peninsula. Once a majority, they are now outnumbered by natural gas industry workers.
- MetaFilter: “Picturing Climate Change” (Dec. 10, 2009).
- Photo District News (Interview): “Nine Photojournalists. One Ambitious Climate Change Project” (Dec. 02, 2009).