The Pope has given his seal of approval to a book which documents the devastating impact of climate change around the world.
Photographer and campaigner Ashley Cooper sent a copy of his book, Images from a Warming Planet, to Pope Francis knowing of his concern about environmental issues.
Replying from the Vatican on behalf of the Pope, Archbishop Paul Gallagher thanked Mr Cooper and said that “the Holy Father…received it with interest and expressed his gratitude for the gift.”
He added: “Despite recent setbacks, the Holy See will continue to promote the issues to which you are committed, and which now appear to have a popular momentum of their own.”
Mr Cooper spent 13 years travelling around the world to photograph the impact of climate change on every continent. The resulting book, published last year, is deceptively beautiful, with its glossy pages of stunning photography. But every picture tells a story of grievous damage “and more views of earthly destruction than I care to remember”.
There are photographs of displaced flood-hit children in refugee camps, dried up river beds, receding glaciers, and – one which has captured public acclaim – a polar bear which starved to death because there was no sea ice on which to hunt its prey. There is an entire chapter on the Canadian tar sands, “of all man’s effort to exploit fossil fuels, by far the most environmentally destructive”.
Mr Cooper lives in Ambleside in the Lake District, where he is a member of the local mountain rescue team. He recently won a Green Apple Environment Award in the international campaign to find the greenest companies, councils and communities, which will be presented at the Houses of Parliament later this year.
His book has been hailed as a critical call to action by leading environmentalists, including Jonathan Porritt, who wrote in a foreword: “Do not ‘flick through’ this extraordinary photographic record…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.”
It has since been commended by a number of high profile environmental activists including the actress Emma Thompson, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron, and TV presenter and wildlife expert Chris Packham.
Mr Cooper said: “I am delighted that Pope Francis, a world leader with such influence, is committed to promoting the issues around climate change.”
He added: “I have been attempting to attract the attention of President Donald Trump but without success so far.”