“Book must be a wake-up call” as UN meets on climate change

A new book about climate change  must be a wake-up call for the world, says the author.

Ashley Cooper’s Images from a Warming Planet will go on sale this week after launching at the start of a new exhibition in Grasmere in the Lake District.

The exhibition coincides with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which is taking place in Marrakech.

Photographer Ashley said today: “This has been a very long journey, and I hope that it does make a difference. For those who may be wavering,  global warming is not a case of what might happen in the future. These images show what is happening now. These pictures show the consequences, and it is only going to get worse unless we act.”


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.”

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.



Images on display will include:

  • Canada’s tar sands, the biggest energy project in the world, and labelled the most destructive project on earth
  • The dangers posed by flooding, in the UK and worldwide, including the tiny atoll island of Tuvalu in the South Pacific, the smallest country in the world, which is likely to be the first to disappear completely due to rising sea levels
  • The effects of glacial ice melt in the Arctic and Antarctic, including the impact on polar bear populations, and the rates of glacial retreat in the Himalayas
  • The human misery of refugee migration from the Middle East which can be traced back to climate change and the impact on harvests and food prices which initially led to war
  • Ashley Cooper (no relation to Heaton Cooper) has always been passionate about the environment and in climate change in particular.  His trips have taken him to many parts of the world with his particular interest being in capturing images that graphically demonstrate the impact of global warming, on people, places and wildlife. A background in natural sciences underpins and informs much of his work. He has worked with UN officials and Medecins Sans Frontiers among others to take his photographs
  • In 2010, Ashley entered the winning image in the climate change category of the prestigious, world-wide Environmental Photographer of the Year competition.
  • Ashley is a member of the Langdale/Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team. He lives in Ambleside with his wife Jill and Border Collie, Tag.
  • The Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere was opened by William Heaton Cooper in 1938.    As an important centre in the Lake District for the interpretation of landscape, the Heaton Cooper studio was one of the original stakeholders in the LDNP bid for World Heritage Site status.  It is a hugely popular tourist attraction, with more than 90,000 visitors last year. It features work by the Heaton Cooper family and guest artists, with the Lakeland landscape at the heart of the gallery’s displays.





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