Think Local

Untitled photo

We’ve all seen the pictures of melting glaciers and deforestation - evocative imagery, indeed. But does it really encourage us to take action about climate change and biodiversity loss? Or is it a more likely outcome that more people jump on a plane or ship to go and photograph the scenes for themselves, in pursuit of ‘likes’. Melting icebergs and rising sea levels are very abstract propositions for the majority of the population. Without any further understanding of potential outcomes, e.g. how the shift in volume or position of ice can affect global weather systems like the jet stream, the concepts can seem very distant, someone else’s problem—a problem for future generations. Biodiversity loss is at least equal to the climate emergency; without our pollinators, we, too, are finished. It’s happening everywhere, including - I’m willing to bet - right on your doorstep. I’ve been pondering this for some time, our seeming inability to take serious actions as governments or individuals. Perhaps, if we start looking at climate change impacts that are already happening locally - or are likely to occur locally - we may find a more immediate compulsion to act. (A valuable byproduct of this would be encouraging local resilience strategies). A note to any climate change deniers out there: even if the climate weren’t changing or cyclical rather than led by human activity, we still need to reduce our use of resources drastically. We must tackle habitat destruction through regenerative farming methods and large scale landscape restoration to survive as a species. Many will have seen the statistic that we only have 60 harvests left due to soil erosion. That’s now 58. Here in Liguria, we are already feeling the impacts. We’ve been around the area for six years now and have already experienced at least two (or is it three?) “once in a hundred-year” rainstorms. We’ve seen roads, villages, and houses washed away in landslides, flash flooding, forest fires, destructive wind storms that damage buildings and wipe out large tracts of mature forest. Diseases are also spreading north and creeping up to higher altitudes, and we already have climate migrants (not to mention those fleeing from war) looking to make their homes here. We’re lucky enough to have 63% forest cover in the region, but these are vulnerable to wildfires triggered by carelessness or lightning. These disasters are already happening, even before we see further warming and habitat loss. So, how could I express my thoughts photographically? I was a bit stumped, as I didn’t think my ICM skills would be the best tool for photographing some of the specific issues in a literal sense, so I decided to take a more expressionist approach and use titling to tell the story. I’ve thought hard about this text - is it too judgemental? Confrontational? Preachy? I’ve settled on hoping it’s provocative. And if it generates critical debate, I’m okay with that. The goal - to ask people to look around, assess, and act. Reduce your consumption, even by a tiny percentage, create a habitat, however small. Consider where you spend your money. It’s by no means an entirely restrictive pursuit - connecting with your local surroundings can be a positively enriching experience in many ways. Most of all: share your stories. I should add as an end-note that I’m still working on making changes to my own lifestyle and by no means have all the answers, or can say I’m doing ‘enough’. The privilege of being able to make ‘green’ choices is no substitute for cutting consumption.

This project was commissioned for the special environmental issue of ICM photomap in November 2021, to see the full set of images you can order it here:

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