“Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. In May 2013, carbon emissions reached the new record level of 400ppm, one more grim milestone for the future of our planet.” A planet so dependent on environmentally damaging fuels like coal, oil, and gas, we have put our home, Earth, at stake. With continuing advancements in environmental research we have learned and continue to learn so much about our impact on the Earth. Climate change caused by human actions result in a cascading domino effect of severe weather, sea level rises, and drought among other things. Environmentalists like Bill McKibben have noted that not enough people see these climate changes as the urgent and pressing threat that they are. “What is commonly not understood by the general public is that it’s happening now, and on a large scale,” says McKibben.
SocialDocumentary.net (SDN) has recently published a Special Issue story on climate change. “Climate Change: Our Uncertain Future” is a compilation of work from four SDN photographers and two environmental science experts that examines different avenues of climate change around the world and the effects on those living there. Photographs from Ismail Ferdous, Ed Kashi, Yusuke Suzuki, and Jon Lewis are paired with the hard facts of research from Bill McKibben and Melanie Fitzpatrick in this enlightening feature story.
Touching on issues like the recovery of Bangladesh from Aila – the devastating 2011 cyclone, Hurricane Sandy’s wrath on the east coast of the US, the dried-up Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, and the disappearing Kiribati shoreline a wide range of environmental issues are illuminated in this SDN Special Issue. Evidence that the impact of global warming can be seen all around the planet speaks to the concept that every country, every industrial factory, every person plays a part in the future of our planet.
“While working in two different continents on the same issue — the effects of climate change in the aftermath of a cyclone or a hurricane — I felt they had big similarities. Whether it is Hurricane Sandy in Union Beach, New Jersey, or Aila in Sundarbans, Bangladesh, the people are the core victims of this phenomenon,” says photographer Ismail Ferdous. Highlighting the human elements in all of these issues, the photojournalists documenting the stories help to make the intangible and seemingly abstract ideas of our environmental footprint real and relatable for our world.
Climate Scientist, Melanie Fitzpatrick states, “We actually have all the technology we need to dramatically reduce emissions — solar panels, wind turbines, energy efficiency, cleaner cars, etc. But what we lack is a price signal for carbon dioxide emissions that would drive investment into cleaner technologies.” As inhabitants of Earth, we all need to take a stand to protect our home. Whether that stand be carpooling to work, founding organizations like Greenpeace, or bringing attention to important issues like these, we can all make a difference. When vying for the future of our planet, every effort counts for it’s all those little differences that add up to big change.