Thursday, 10 September 2009

It's Not Just About Ice

People have become very used to images of polar bears clinging to remnants of ice bergs or floating on small isolated islands of sea ice. Such images are used to highlight the problems of climate change and its impact on Arctic and Antarctic ice volumes and the fauna of those areas. WWF's ads encourage people to adopt a polar bear but make no mention of the wider impacts of climate change.

Image - Christian Aid

But how do you make something like loss of sea ice or the melting of the Greenland ice sheet tangible to a member of the public. How do the public relate to images of icebergs calving into the warming waters of the Arctic? How do such images relate to their lives and, more importantly, how do such images make people think about their own impact on global climate change or influence their behaviour? It's very easy to adopt a bear, ease your conscience, and then do nothing about your own CO2 emissions.

The new ad campaign from Christian Aid goes someway to connect familiar melting ice imagery with the direct impact climate change is already having on the lives of people all over the world. From the "Africa Iceberg" image to the latest "Cracked ice, Cracked Earth" image (shown here), Christian Aid are trying to focus our attention on the immediate impacts of climate change. Displacement of populations, failed, unseasonal or extreme rainfall, loss of livelihood. All of these things are happening now and the challenge is to persuade people to act before, as can often be the case with human nature, they feel catastrophic impacts of climate change themselves.

It's a challenge that photojournalists need to accept and I hope to help make that connection between our actions as individuals and the direct impact those actions are having on individuals somewhere else.

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