Images From A Warming Planet - Ashley Cooper
It all started off in the early part of this century when I started reading about climate change in scientific journals. I decided to do a specific climate change photo shoot, which was to spend a month in Alaska. I planned to cover glacial retreat, permafrost melt, forest fires and had a week on Shishmaref, a tiny remote island between Alaska and Siberia. Shishmaref is home to around 800 Inuits. Their mainly hunter gatherer lifestyle meant that they had a tiny carbon footprint. I was to learn something on Shishmaref, that I have seen many times since in my travels, and that is those that are least responsible for climate change are most impacted by it. The problem on Shishmaref was that the sea ice that used to form around the island in late September, was not forming till maybe Christmas time. Any early storms hitting the island before the sea ice had formed, were knocking great chunks out of the land and tumbling the Inuits houses into the sea.
Even in 2004 it was obvious the Arctic was warming very rapidly,, and the many impacts of climate change were blindingly obvious and in your face. I returned from Alaska determined to do more. My second photo shoot was to the remote island Nation of Tuvalu, in the Pacific Ocean. More people climb Everest every year, than visit Funafuti, one of Tuvalu’s main islands. These low lying coral atop islands are extremely vulnerable to sea level rise. I had planned my trip for the highest Spring tides of the year. At high tide the middle of the islands were in places four feet under water. Tuvalu will probably be the first country to completely disappear as a result of climate change. It wasn’t long before I decided I should try and document the impacts of climate change on every continent. Something, that thirteen years on I have achieved.
Following a successful crowd funding program, I have just published “Images From a Warming Planet”, a 416 page hardback, art photography book containing 500 of the best images from my epic journey around the planet. The book has come out to amazing reviews and is on sale now. You can read the reviews and see around 100 of the pages online , as well as purchase the book at http://www.imagesfromawarmingplanet.net Jonathon Porritt who wrote the foreword for the book called it "An extraordinary collection of images, and a powerful call to action". The journey was not without its dangers, I came close to falling down a crevasse on the Greenland ice sheet, and narrowly avoided being avalanched in the Himalayas. I suffered intimidation and hassle at every turn, including arrest by the Chinese Army, threatened with arrest by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police if I so much as took one step off the highway, whilst documenting the tar sands. I have been stopped and searched by the police on countless occasions, including being tailed by four Metropolitan Police Officers for seven hours whilst documenting the climate camp at Heathrow. My last photo shoot to Bolivia, ended in a head on collision which wrote off my hire car, and resulted in the hire car company locking me in a hotel, and trying to defraud $50,000 from my credit card.
As my book when to print, I heard that the residents of Shishmaref had taken the unprecedented step of voting to leave their island home. It is simply getting unsustainable to continue to live there, as every more and more of the island disappears under the waves. They hope to set up a new community on the mainland of Alaska, but the US government will not provide the funding to do so.
For more information and a link to the Book please go to http://www.imagesfromawarmingplanet.com