February 24, 2012

Mount Everest’s shrinking glaciers

Image first produced and shown at UNESCO's Outdoor Exhibition ‘Satellites and World Heritage Sites, Partners to Understand Climate Change,’ at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico. Copyright Cnes 2004 - 2010 - Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image

Saw this photo on Responding to Climate Change  today while I was putting off doing my Calculus homework. It’s so beautiful, yet also super disturbing.

This is a photo of Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park, home of Mount Everest (the highest peak in the world, duh), which is famous for its “dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys.”  The site says:

Several rare species, such as the snow leopard and the lesser panda, are found in the park.

The air temperatures in this area have risen by 1°C since 1970, leading to a 30% decrease in snow and ice cover over the last 40 years.

A high glacier on Mount Everest, located at an altitude of 4,000 m, is now a lake.

Glacier lake outburst floods are now much more frequent, creating serious risks for human populations with grave implications for the water supply in South Asia and the flow of major rivers such as the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra.

I just don’t get how people can look at stuff like this and say, “Oh, it’s just totally random that this is happening, it’ll all get colder someday again and everything’ll be fine.”  As if.

In case you’re curious, Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) is an organization that’s dedicated to raising awareness about climate change issues (yay).  It also runs Climate Change TV, the world’s first-ever online video channel that’s 100% devoted to running stories about climate change.  You should check it out.   Everybody should.

 

 

 

 


January 10, 2012

You’re least responsible? Here’s the worst deal.

Some people at McGill University (known to some as the Harvard of Canada — but I call Harvard the McGill of the States) recently figured out what a lot of environmentally-oriented folks have suspected for a while now: the people in the world who’re most vulnerable to bad stuff happening from climate change are those least responsible for causing it. GOOD magazine wrote about it, which is a pretty, uh, good publication if you ask me.

They made this thing called the Climate Demographic Vulnerability Index, — yup, the CDVI — to show which areas of the world are gonna be in the most trouble as population increases and temperatures rise, even just a little bit.

Basically, the hottest places will only get hotter, which’ll make it harder to grow food.  Places like Somalia, for example.  As populations, of course, get bigger and bigger.

Unfair?  What isn’t.  Just hope somebody’s paying attention on the world scale who cares about making things even a little bit fairer.

I know I sound like I’m down in the dumps, but this kinda stuff really chaps my butt.

Meantime, I guess I better ditch those plans to move to Somalia and stay put here at the store.  (Twist my arm, why don’cha.)  Easier to watch the icebergs melt up here anyway.

Dang, somebody better cheer me up.


January 5, 2012

Mitch Epstein

Photographer Mitch Epstein won the third annual Prix Pictet, the recently established Geneva-based photo prize for excellence in environmental photography.  The Prix theme in 2011 was “Growth.”  (This year, it’s going to be “Power.”)

"Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia, 2004," Mitch Epstein

Epstein’s epic images of energy consumption in the United States are truly breathtaking, in all senses of the word.


November 27, 2011

DAS RAD (“The Wheel”)

A while ago I watched a short film by three Germans called “DAS RAD (The Wheel).”  Now, before you say “German films?  Nein, danke” and run into a cave, let me tell you, my friends, that it is quite entertaining and was even nominated for an Academy Award.

The stars are two rock piles, observing life on a hillside from ancient times through the present, and into the future.  The little film moves through time at high speed, like a time-lapse version of geological eras. When the modern world comes into view, the buildings appear and disappear in an instant, and was my favorite section.  And sometimes it switchesto real time and shows the inhabitants and objects in motion in their day-to-day existence.

If you have about nine minutes, check it out.  It is — how do you say? — “my cup of tea.”


November 27, 2011

Christopher Jordan: “Midway”

Much of artist Christopher Jordan’s artwork deals with consumption, sustainability, and the environment. His series of photos from the Midway Atoll islands (in the Pacific Ocean, about 1000 miles north of Hawaii) took my breath away:

From “Midway: Message from the Gyre,” Christopher Jordan (2009-current)

Maybe you’ve heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the giant “landfill” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Well, the Midway Atoll is located near its apex and is a longtime wildlife refuge where albatrosses go to mate and feed their young.

This photo essay is like an environmental autopsy of the baby albatrosses that die after their parents try to forage the Pacific Ocean for food, and come back with only detritus to feed their young.   These haunting images won the prestigious French Prix Pictet  in March 2011.

Jordan and several collaborators are producing a documentary film about this phenomenon, too, called simply MIDWAY.  The filmmakers write:

The islands are literally covered with plastic garbage, illustrating on several levels the interconnectedness and interdependence of the systems on our finite planet [...]

And so it is here, sitting halfway between the consumers of North America and the consumers of Asia, that we get to stop and consider some of the unintentional consequences of growth, and the responsibilities that we have for our planet.

 


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