The urgency of awe: 10 striking photos of nature as the world faces climate crises

World

By Ruby Mellen | Nov 6, 2021

Kangaroos standing in a scorched forest, pigs and cows carted off to slaughter, penguins and polar bears watching their homes melt away.

As countries negotiate in Glasgow, Scotland, on how to stave off climate disaster, photographers around the world are showcasing the effects of human-made climate change.

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media/Courtesy of

The Earth Project, a climate action advocacy organization, announced Saturday the winners and runners-up of a contest in which photographers were asked to submit images representing the toll that human behavior is having on the rest of the world’s living creatures. They wanted to raise awareness about the current climate crisis.

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media/Courtesy of

One piglet from a large litter looks around her small crate as her mother lies immobile beside her. The standard method of raising pigs is to keep them in farrowing crates, where they can be kept for several months.

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

The industrial farming of animals like cows and pigs is a large contributor to climate change, and the United Nations has said plant-based diets, especially in rich countries, would help mitigate its effects. Animal welfare groups have long condemned the practice as a cruel and inhumane way of transporting livestock long distances.

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

Every year, millions of animals are transported for slaughter from across Europe over the Bulgarian-Turkish border. As they travel south, the animals are often left without food or water for long periods.

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

In South Africa, where poachers are killing off the rhinoceros population, protectors carry out “dehorning” — a traumatic procedure, but one that could protect the mammals from being killed. Like fingernails and horns eventually recover.

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

South Africa has the largest population of rhinos in the world, but there has been a catastrophic decline in their numbers because of poaching.

Rivon Mkansi/Wildshots Outreach

Rivon Mkansi/Wildshots Outreach

Extreme weather and an increase in fires linked to man-made climate change have also taken a toll on the wildlife population. The World Wildlife Fund said the fire season in Australia between June 2019 and February 2020 killed or displaced nearly 3 billion animals, including koalas, wallabies and kangaroos.

Rivon Mkansi/Wildshots Outreach

An Eastern gray kangaroo and her joey that survived the cataclysmic forest fires in Mallacoota, Australia, stand amid a burned eucalyptus plantation in January 2020.

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

Other photographers chose to focus on the Arctic, where record-high temperatures are causing ice sheets to melt, destroying habitats and raising sea levels around the world.

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

A melting ice sheet with massive waterfalls running off the Austfonna glacier in Svalbard, Norway.

Roy Mangersnes

Roy Mangersnes

Polar bears are still doing well in Svalbard, but it is getting harder every year for them to keep up with changes due to climate change, raising concerns that “the King of the Arctic” could disappear from Svalbard.

Photos also showcased the natural yet surreal beauty of a planet at risk.

Photographer Edwin Giesbers photographed two penguins years ago while onboard a research ship in Antarctica, sailing into what he described as a “fairy-tale world.”

“It is precisely this photo — with the penguins small in the frame — that clearly conveys my feelings about Antarctica: an infinitely large and magical world where you as a human being feel small and insignificant. Global warming poses a serious threat to penguin colonies today, said Edwin Giesbers.

Edwin Giesbers

Nick Garbutt captured a humpback whale in the coastal regions of British Columbia, where they migrate to feed on vast schools of herring.

“Everywhere there is intricate interconnectivity and all driven by seasonal cycles threatened by climate change,” he said.

Edwin Giesbers

Nick Garbutt

Doug Gimesy photographed blue penguins living on a bay some four miles from the heart of Melbourne.

On his website Gimesy wrote, “This is one of only a handful of penguin colonies that have established themselves next to a major city and the only penguin colony in the world that lives, feeds and forages in a bay,” making them especially vulnerable to human activity.

Nick Garbutt

Two little blue penguins — the world’s smallest penguin species — stand on the rocks of St. Kilda breakwater with Melbourne’s city lights in the background.

Doug Gimesy

Doug Gimesy

Tony Wu captured a humpback whale caring for her calf that had just been attacked, presumably by a group of marine mammals.

He saw the pair nine times over the course of 33 days, he said, documenting “the calf’s recovery and growth, as well as his mother’s change in mood and interactions with other whales. “

Doug Gimesy

Tony Wu

When this photo was taken, Wu said, the calf’s “wounds were healing well. His mother was also very comfortable with him. He was active and energetic. His mother had grown comfortable with my presence as well.”

Tony Wu

“Humans and humpback whales are different in many ways,” Wu added. “This calf and his mother demonstrated many of the things we have in common — fear, love, hope, resilience, trust and perhaps even friendship.”

Tony Wu

More from the Post

A hike through ice caves under Austria’s melting glaciers shows ‘decays’ from climate change

The latest from The Washington Post

Credits

Editing by Reem Akkad. Morgan Coates did the photo editing.

Read More

Related Posts