Four photobooks that raise awareness about the climate crisis

On February 28, the IPCC released the second part of the sixth Human Impact Assessment Report on Climate. The group of experts behind shows that the consequences of climate change are evident in most ecosystems, hydrosystems and human societies. Wolfgang Cramer, who led one of the report’s chapters, believes that natural disasters in recent years “are increasingly common and that this increase is due, in a large number of cases, to human activity. […] The situation has worsened significantly. »

The expert sounds the alarm, among other things, about the rise in the waters of the Mediterranean, about the differences in adaptation to climate change between populations, and about the need for greater involvement of the countries of the North: “To change things, we need more financial and technological efforts, with the support of the countries of the North, which are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions. »

Photography has been an effective and powerful means of raising awareness for years. We are well aware of the commitment and publications of Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Thomas Pesquet and Sebastião Salgado, without forgetting Vincent Munier, who premiered his sublime Tibet, Mineral Animal in 2018 and who has just received a caesarean section for the film based on this adventure in Tibet with Sylvain Tesson, The Snow Panther.

But other photojournalists travel the world to tell us the stories of those who are beginning to feel the effects of climate change. Between 2021 and 2022, some important books have marked the landscape of nature photography. The four photographic works that we present here are information and awareness tools that return us to a reality that could not be more tangible. To discover other environmentalists and support leur travail à l’international, vous pouvez suivre l’association Vital Impact, created by the photographer of National Geographic Ami Vitale, who regularly organizes actions, sales and exhibitions online in defense of the environment.

one pete mcbride, watching the silence: a trip to the most peaceful places in the world

in his new book watching the silence, Pete McBride leads a reflection on noise pollution and takes us to some of the most remote places on the planet to rediscover silence. A journey from the North Pole to the South Pole, from east to west in search of these places that the photographer defines as “shrines for our souls”.

Pete McBride is one of the world’s most acclaimed nature photographers, but what he says defines a good wilderness photograph is not so much what you see with your eyes as the silence that can be conveyed through the image. An illusory silence, because in reality these places are full of life and this is expressed in all possible ways: the flow of a river, the language of animals and insects, the plants moving with the sun and the wind, the footsteps of a man. who, alone, descends from the peaks of the Himalayas.

According to the photographer, our perception of silence is somewhat wrong: we tend to consider that silence is actually the absence of sounds, while it is rather a sound space that gives way to voids, to blank spaces, which allows us to learn other languages.

These places recall the magic of being truly “away from it all”, whether on top of Mount Everest, along the Ganges, in the African savannah or high up in the Atacama desert. Behind this praise of silence, the reporter, however, wants to remind us that these places are disappearing, threatened by human action. Through finding stillness, humans can remember why these places are so important to their very survival.

A climber descends the Valley of Silence 21,000 feet below the face of Lhotse in Nepal.©Pete McBride

Pete McBride is a self-taught photographer, filmmaker, writer, and speaker. He is a Sony Image Craftsman and has traveled to more than 75 countries for organizations such as the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian, Google, and The Nature Conservancy. Before leaving watching the silencehad published Grand Canyon: Between the River and the Rim, for which he had climbed up and down the Grand Canyon, earning him the title of 2019 Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic. In 2020, the documentary based on this book was nominated for an Emmy Award.

pete mcbride, watching the silence Rizzoli, 2021, 208 pages, €22.50.

two Nick Brandt, the day may break : together with the survivors of the climate crisis

Also released in late 2021, the day may break by nature photographer Nick Brandt focuses on the survivors of global warming, the first victims of these natural and humanitarian disasters. Men and animals are photographed together to emphasize that this damage affects all living beings and that, given the destruction of habitats, we are condemned to the same fate.

Photographed in Zimbabwe and Kenya in late 2020, the day may breakis the first in a series taking place around the world to portray people and animals affected by environmental degradation and destruction. All of the people depicted in these photographs have been affected by climate change, displaced by cyclones and droughts that have lasted for years. The animals, on the other hand, are survivors who can never be wild again and are protected in sanctuaries. Accustomed to human presence, it was quite easy to make them pose next to humans.

The fog that surrounds the characters in these black and white shots is the symbol of a known world that is fading, as if we were leaving what we know to enter instability, a kind of limbo. The book sounds the alarm: the climate crisis has already begun and some are already suffering from the tangible consequences… While the West seems cloistered in denial, Nick Brandt wants to provoke a good “rain of reality”, to get us out of our chimera of metaverse and virtuality to remind us that reality is tragic.

Helen and Sky, Zimbabwe, 2020.©Nick Brandt

In the prologue of the author’s book DustY The sea of ​​dragonflies Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, we read: “Nick Brandt is an artist and a witness who takes hold of dark and desperate destinies and, through a certain mystery and a certain alchemy, transmutes them into a gesture of poignant and painful beauty. It’s been years, if not longer, since I’ve seen contemporary photographs of people of African descent created by someone of Euro-American descent that were so tender, human, and beautiful. »

To continue following Nick Brandt’s project, visit his Instagram account.

Nick Brandt, the day may breakHatje Cantz, 2021, 168 pages, €54.

3 Beth Moon, Baobab: in defense of the sacred trees of Madagascar

Published by Abbeville Press in 2022, Baobab by Beth Moon is one of the best photographic books to appear recently. A spectacular large-format photobook that celebrates Africa’s most majestic trees, which today face an unprecedented ecological threat.

Since 2006, Beth Moon has been photographing the fascinating sacred trees of Madagascar, trying to shed light on the intimate and deep spiritual relationships that bind the baobabs and the inhabitants of the island. These ancient giants often host local deities and the epidemic that is now hitting them is undermining the balance and social fabric of these populations. In 2018, the photographer went to photograph the most impressive of these trees, the Tsitakakoike, “the tree where we do not hear each other speak from one end to the other”. For nearly 1,400 years, this tree provided wood, food, and shelter for the animals and humans that lived around it. Inside his huge trunk resided the deities of the Masikoro people. Due to prolonged droughts, baobab trees are collapsing and dying throughout South Africa and Madagascar. The Tsitakakoike did not escape this sad fate and collapsed in 2018. The photographer went there to pay him one last tribute. He describes an awe-inspiring sight: the roots of the tree had come out of the ground, like arms stretched out to the sky in search of water.

The book narrates this royal pilgrimage to this magnificent tree, described with emotion and poetry by the photographer. As if to end the adventure on a hopeful note, Beth Moon also visits the tree that will succeed the Tsitakakoike, the Tsitakakansa, where the village elders invite the old spirits to perform an ancient ritual. Baobabs are an invaluable heritage for our planet, a rare and complex plant species. A baobab tree can live up to 2,500 years and its water-storing trunk is a true wonder of nature, being able to exceed 30 meters in width.

While the most imposing of these giants are disappearing, scientists are sounding the alarm about the great catastrophe that threatens the habitats that depend on these sacred trees. With her book, Beth Moon wants to open our eyes to the importance of its conservation. She can browse the captivating online exhibition curated by the photographer by clicking here.

©Beth Luna

Beth Moon, BaobabEditorial Museo, 2022, 120 pages, €44.50.

4 Brice Portolano, No Signal, living closer to nature : meeting with those who left everything to live in another way

No signalby Brice Portolano is the result of a successful crowdfunding. A photographic book that takes us from the wild archipelagos of Alaska to the snowy forests of Lapland to meet those who have decided to live closer to nature. Without completely renouncing modernity, these people nevertheless question the functioning of our societies that constantly brutalize life and the environment.

A photographic project that raises a central observation: to date, more than half of humanity lives in urban areas and is increasingly detached from nature, which leads to a misunderstanding of the environmental issues that permeate our time. With some of the highest urbanization rates in the world, Europe (73%) and North America (82%) are the setting for this project built around four portraits. For five years, the photographer has woven this narrative around the world in the cinematic form so dear to him, meeting couples embarking on a self-sufficient lifestyle, a former teacher converted to equestrian archery, a dog breeder sledding in northern Lapland, farmers in Utah, having left everything behind to pursue a desire for freedom and connection with the living. This new life, guided by the compelling desire to follow another path, is transformed, despite the obstacles, into a true search for meaning and freedom.

Brice Portolano was born in Paris in 1991. After a childhood in Provence, he developed a passion for nature, travel and photography at a very young age. After his studies, he decided to explore the great outdoors to photograph the people who live there. His style that mixes documentary photography and cinematographic atmospheres has made him one of the great new talents of French photography. His work is regularly published in the French and international press, in particular in GEO Magazine, National Geographic, The GuardianY 6 MONTHS.

Book cover No Signal, living closer to nature.© Brice Portolano

Brice Portolano, No signalHoëbeke/Gallimard, 2021, 272 pages, €35.

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