Award-winning climate change images

By Anthony Lock 7 November 2013
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A new exhibition of award-winning environment images is on display at the Sydney Botanic Gardens.

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT HAS just passed a major tax on carbon pollution, and what better time to be reminded of the impacts of climate change.

Greenpeace has launched an exhibition of award-winning photographs at the Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens to show the power of extreme weather and dramatic climatic changes.

The exhibition – Changing Climates – focuses on highlighting the impact a changing climate has on people, animals, landmarks, and sustainability of the planet.

“Photography is one of the best ways to show the effects of climate change,” says Professor Glenn Albrecht, director of the Institute of Sustainability and Technology Policy at Murdoch University, whose work is centred around the psychological effects of such climatic change on humans.

“Animals are so instinctively tied to their home habitat that there must be some kind of distress when that environment changes,” he says. “Each one of the images illustrates the loss of the quality of the home environment for a living thing.”


Climate change awareness through images

By holding the exhibition, Greenpeace hopes to raise awareness of climate change and inspire people to take action on the issue, says Belinda Fletcher, the campaign co-ordinator from Greenpeace’s climate and energy team.

“We chose the photos because of their power of communicating the beauty of the Earth and the dramatic and terrible impacts of climate change”, she says. “Whether glaciers melting in the Arctic, the impacts of sea level rise in the Pacific or the aftermath of bush fires and the effects of drought in Australia – these images are very moving.”

Many images are juxtapositions of an old landscape and life in the process of being eroded, such as a boat trapped in sandbanks after severe drought.

An iconic image is ‘no swimming’ sign located at the now-dry Lake Condobolin in New South Wales. The lake was an economic source to the local community for fishing and water-sports activities, but it has been dry for three years, like many similar areas in Australia.

 “The dry lake has no human presence, but the sign shows that there has been a loss”, Glenn says. “Even resilient communities suffer as local economies based on recreation and tourism cannot depend on a reliable environment to sustain them… Distressed landscapes contain distressed people.”


Award-winning environment images

Photographers whose work is being shown include Daniel Beltrá, who was recently the London Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for 2011, and Australian photographer Dean Sewell, who won the Moran contemporary photography prize (2009) and had photos recognised at various World Press Photo awards.

“For a lot of people the debate [around climate change] can be very confusing”, Dean says. “Photography is more inclusive. It can help engage people in the debate instead of isolating them from it when they may believe the issue is not something that they can have a say in.”

“The whole world has to engage in it [the topic of climate change]”, he says. “The visual medium is simpler for people to digest, and people need to cut through all the spin and misinformation.”