Leading environmental campaigners have welcomed a new book about climate change produced by a Lake District-based photographer.
Ashley Cooper’s Images from a Warming Planet will go on sale shortly after launching at the start of a new exhibition in Grasmere.
But already his powerful message, delivered through more than 500 photographs of the impact of climate change across the globe, is being hailed as a call to political action.
Britain’s best-known environmentalist and green campaigner Jonathon Porritt says that Cooper’s book is an “extraordinary photographic record” which must not be seen as just another snapshot in time. “Do not be tempted into any kind of passive voyeurism; do not allow the power of the images to come between you and the people whose changing lives they portray,” says Porritt. “See it more as a declaration of solidarity, and as the powerful call to action that it surely is.”
Ashley Cooper travelled the globe for 13 years taking photographs in key locations which illustrate the havoc which is being brought upon the natural world. He has amassed the world’s largest collection of pictures documenting climate change on every continent, from the Inuit communities of the Arctic to the coral atoll islands of the Pacific Ocean, showing the damage caused by dependence on fossil fuels: flooding, glacial erosion, and deforestation.
His book comes 10 years after the launch of the Hard Rain project led by Mark Edwards, and named after Bob Dylan’s song A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.
“This is a worthy successor to Hard Rain and a significant review of the evidence,” says Richard Little, senior consultant at Impact International, one of the book’s backers.
“Slowly, with much labour, at some risk and with great determination, Ashley Cooper has created a photographic record of world importance. It is an irony that so many of the images of havoc in this book are seductively beautiful: we should study them aware that other seductions have drawn us into the false relation with nature that has brought about this ugly mess.”
Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit has also reviewed Cooper’s work and says: “This brilliant book is either the crowning example of a dystopian vision of our world made real through the lens of an artist’s genius…marking a moment when the world is changing beyond what we have ever known since humanity first recorded its observations…or it marks the beginning of a new age where the unseen impacts of “slow violence” are suddenly turned into a clear and present danger we are biologically able to react to and philosophically predisposed to.
“The big question is: if we fry, who cares? Failure consigns us to abut part actor on evolution’s stage. Success would be our crowning achievement as a species and create a spiritual platform that can transform the future into a picture that remains ours still to make. This magnificent photo essay throws down the gauntlet, the choice is ours but the scale of the game is here made visible.”
Mark Edwards, who is a leading environmental communicator, says: “This book shows, like no other, our dependence on fossil fuels and why we have to open a new chapter in our history. We have the technologies to power our lives without the terrible pollution we have grown accustomed to. Do political leaders have the courage to take the new technologies to scale? Only if we bolster their resolve to act in favour of the future. Everyone should see this book and make their voice heard.”
Jonathan Porritt adds: “This is a book about change. About the way the climate is already changing, and the way in which it will change even more dramatically in the future. About changes in peoples’ lives as they seek to make sense of weather systems that seem to have slipped those reassuring bounds of normality and predictability. About changes in our understanding of what’s going on around us, in our world views, in our orientation both to our current reality and to the future. And by and large, people really don’t like change.”
Cooper’s exhibition and book launch will be at the Archive Gallery at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere, and will mark the start of the Kendal Mountain Festival which brings together lovers of the outdoors from across Britain and beyond. It will run from November 17 until the end of the year, and admission to the exhibition is free.