From the frontiers of climate change comes Consequences by NOOR, featuring the work of nine internationally acclaimed photographers who documented the devastating effects of climate change around the globe.
The project intended to show the humanitarian consequences of climate change; focusing on actual facts that had devastating effects on the lives of millions of people around the world: floods, drought, hunger, disease, animal extinction, conflicts, migration and loss of human rights. Their stories were gathered in the multimedia project "Consequences by NOOR", realized with the support of Nikon Europe BV and funds from a large group of international organizations. From concept to dissemination, NOOR took the project to its widest possible audience.
Collectively, the participating NOOR photographers visited the hunger victims in the deserts of Darfur, the flood victims of Bangladesh, the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and traveled to the Maldives, Poland and Brazil, amongst other places, to witness the issues at stake. In combination with their encompassing archival work, their stories document the biggest challenges our world faced at the time.
"Consequences by NOOR" premiered at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, in December 2009, catching the attention of thousands of international delegates, scientists, journalists and activists.
Path of Destruction
Path of Destruction: Mountain Pine Beetles in British Columbia, Canada
by Nina Berman
Across British Columbia, 36 million acres of pine forests are dead and dying. The killer is a small beetle the size of a rice kernel. Indigenous to the forests of North America, the mountain pine beetle’s population was kept in check by cold winters. But global warming in the last two decades has allowed the beetles to thrive.The path of destruction caused by this infestation can be seen in a cataclysmic shift in the color and shape of the landscape.
To the untrained eye, the attack appears beautiful at first. Swaths of green trees turn red, like autumn leaves changing. But these pines are evergreens and a color shift is a sign of inevitable mortality. From red, the leaves turn purple, brown, and finally grey. At this point, they can no longer stand and whither to the ground, their pinecones dried out and scattered across the forest floor, their branches, ready fuel for fires.
By 2014, an estimated 80 percent of the lodge pole pines in BC will be dead. The attack has also affected the giant Ponderosas, some of them three to four hundred years old.
Once carbon sinks, these forests are now emitters. By 2020, the dead trees will add an extra billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere or 5 times what all Canadian transportation emits a year. Nothing can stop the large-scale attacks. Chemical patches can be placed on individual trees to trick beetles into thinking the trees are full, but this is not a solution for tens of millions of acres.
The beetle invades by drilling perfectly symmetrical holes in the bark of trees to lay their larvae. The tree emits gooey yellow sap to plug up the holes and protect itself, but to no avail. In the late spring and summer the beetles emerge and fly to attack new trees. Having eaten nearly all the mature lodge pole pines in British Columbia, they are chomping through younger ones. Canadian officials say the beetle has nearly eaten itself out of house and home in British Columbia and so has crossed the provincial line to scout new prey in Alberta where there have been reports of what look like hail clouds but are actually swarms of flying beetles.
The consequences of this unprecedented infestation are enormous and just beginning to unfold.
Dead trees crash down on power lines, block watersheds, and fuel fires.
In 2009, British Columbia recorded more fires over more acres than any year in its history.
Dead and dying tress provide no shade so the ground gets warmer.
Dead trees with no leaves can’t hold snowpack required for proper run off.
This is not just a Canadian problem. The beetle has crossed the border and is forging a path of destruction south through the American Rockies and over the Continental divide. Some researchers predict that the rampage will stretch east to New Jersey and south to Georgia. Billions of dead trees, once carbon sinks, now emitters, a consequence of climate change.
Blackfields: Poland’s Coal Industry
by Pep Bonet
Poland is the second largest coal producer and consumer in all of Europe and consequently one of the most polluted and polluting countries.
From all fossil fuels, brown coal is the one that has the biggest impact on climate change, producing 1/3 of the worlds CO2 emissions. Pep Bonet visited the region of Upper Silesia - one of the most heavily industrialised and polluted areas in the continent - to document the environmental and humanitarian impact of coal mining.
During his trip to Poland Pep visited “Adamow”, a coal mine that pumps 80 to 120 million-m3 of water out of the ground every year. Dry grounds enable the extraction of brown coal but the lack of water makes the land infertile affecting the life of local inhabitants.
Pep: “the surrounding burnt-out landscape is littered with heaps of coal waste, trucks and excavators. Deep in the mine, conveyor belts slither along, laden with earth and rock. On the observation deck built around the hole, people fall silent; the view has a sobering effect”.
Poland has one of the highest numbers of lakes in the world and the current developments of expanding mining throughout the country will have a serious impact on these natural resources. Devastating effects can occur on the fragile ecosystem endangering several species. Marshes and peat bogs can also dry up, causing irreversible destruction.
Researchers believe that the impact of these new mining operations will affect not only surrounding areas but also regions hundreds of kilometers away. If mining companies continue to refuse considering these facts and reevaluate their plans, the damage caused by opencast mining in Poland might have only just begun.
Based on a story by Marta Kazmierska | Greenpeace
Shadows of Change
by Stanley greene
Greenland's ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, raising global sea levels and threatening the local way of life. Nowhere on Earth, perhaps, is the evidence of climate change more apparent. The ice that covers 80 percent of the world's largest island is disappearing at the rate of 7 percent a year, a rate that has accelerated substantially in recent years.
In some places, the ice shelf is already too thin to permit the Inuit to travel to traditional hunting grounds. The permafrost is also melting, producing a land that is boggy, unstable for buildings and difficult to cross by the traditional sleds. Worst-case scenarios predict that the carbon released by the melting permafrost could equal all the carbon already in the Earth's atmosphere.
The Inuit, who survived for centuries by hunting seals and whales, are watching their way of life disappear before their very eyes. "This weather does not belong to us. It belongs to someone else. If we don't have ice, we are going to die." With this prediction, an Inuit hunter sums up the dire situation for the indigenous peoples who live in northern and eastern Greenland.
by Yuri kozyrev
Yamal Peninsula: home to the Nenet population and the largest natural gas reserve in the world.
In the language of the indigenous Nenet, "Yamal" means "world's end." This more than 700 kilometre long peninsula in North Western Siberia, Russia, is home to more than 40.000 Nenet and the largest natural gas reserve in the world. For a thousand years, the Nenet have herded their domesticated reindeer to summer pastures above the Arctic Circle.
The Nenet's traditional way of life is threatened by warming temperatures and by the world's rapacious appetite for natural gas. Traditionally, the Nenet travel across the frozen Ob River in November and set up camp in the forests. These days, this annual winter pilgrimage is delayed. The Nenet, together with many thousands of reindeer, have to wait until late December when the ice is finally thick enough to cross. And with the gas wells have come railroad tracks and natural gas pipelines that bisect herding routes and cause reindeers to break legs. Fish, once an abundant dietary staple, have also diminished: the Nenet blame offshore drilling.
In The Oil Sands
by Jon Lowenstein
The oil sands of Alberta, Canada, one of the world's second largest reserve of crude oil and a major source of greenhouse gases.
The oil sands of Alberta, Canada, represent the second largest source of crude oil in the world, behind Saudi Arabia. Unlike conventional crude oil, which is pumped from deep within the earth, oil sands are a mixture of sand, clay, water and bitumen, found near the surface. Oil sand mining degrades the landscape, pollutes the water and with its associated refining industries accounts for five percent of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions.
In our interconnected global world, the story of these oil sands is as much about polluted water as it is about polluted dreams: it exposes the degraded terrain of the mining site while it reveals the decayed terrain of human avarice. Mining and refining the oil sands is an expensive process, but with the rise in the price of oil, it has become very profitable. The small town of Fort McMurray, where many people live that work in the oil sands, is known to its residents as Fort McMoney. The town has exploded with the influx of oil patch workers from around the globe, and Canada's coffers have swelled with billions in royalties.
Brazil's Range War
Brazil’s Range War: Assault on the Amazon
by Kadir van Lohuizen
Cattle ranching in the Amazon is a major driver of deforestation and contributor to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
The rainforests of the Brazilian Amazon, the most biologically diverse place on Earth, are shrinking by tens of thousands of square kilometres a year. About 60 to 70 percent of that deforestation occurs as ranchers cut, burn and bulldoze trees, to create pastures for the country's burgeoning cattle industry. In recent years, Brazil has become the largest exporter of beef and, not coincidentally, the third largest polluter in the world, after China and the United States. Every eight seconds the size of a football field disappears in the Brazilian Amazon.
Fires from the burning forests and the ovens that heat the wood into charcoal fill the skies. The cattle, too, are responsible for methane gases. Methane has a global warming potential more than twenty times greater than that of carbon dioxide. Most of the deforestation for pastures is illegal, however the cattle farmers are a powerful force in Brazil where 75 percent of the land is owned by three percent of the people. Even nature preserves, such as Terra do Meio, are not safe from the illegal deforestation.