Climate change represents the largest existential threat to civilization as we know it. For tens of thousands of years, the globe has experienced relatively stable climatic conditions. This has enabled us to be where we are today. The discovery and use of fossil fuels accelerated this civilizational growth. However, progress has come at a significant cost. As we burn more fossil fuels, we inject excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It acts as an invisible blanket, insulating the earth and not letting incoming sunlight/heat escape back to space. This process turns up the global thermostat. Extreme weather events and social phenomena such as more intense cyclones and tropical storms, severe changes in rainfall, and vast melting of ice across the planet are all linked to a warming world. Much of this is affecting the world's poor that have the least resources to fight against surging threats. A quick and global response by all sectors is required. However, on our current path, carbon reduction and adaptive measures are not being adopted quick enough. Governments, industries, and the general public all have a part to play if the globe is to halt or, at least, slow down, climate change.
2 / 25
The world ablaze. Trash piles can be found burning across the world. Approximately, 40% of global waste is managed in this manner. The majority of burning garbage consists of organic matter, and when burned, releases carbon emissions, which are the primary precursor to climate change. An additional concern is as plastic, and other man-made waste becomes ever more prevalent across societies, especially nations that lack proper waste management systems, the excess is thrown into piles of burning waste. The resulting cocktail of toxic chemical emissions from mercury to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is a serious threat to the health of directly exposed people - conditions linked can range from lung and neurological conditions to heart attacks and cancer. The majority of exposed people are often those found on the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
3 / 25
The unintended consequences of development: air pollution in South Korea. Korea suffers from mass Chinese production across the Yellow Sea where smog is often blown towards the peninsula. However, much of the smog is also attributed to dirty industries and manufacturing within Korea. Many outdoor air pollutants such as particulate matter, ozone, lead, and carbon monoxide are sourced from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, both precursors to climate change, which are staples of the energy diet in developed and developing nations. WHO estimates that outdoor air pollution is linked to over 3 million deaths per year. Countries like Australia and the USA have implemented effective policies and technologies to combat air pollution that has contributed to clean air. However, many have argued that developed nations have simply offloaded their manufacturing and industry to poorer nations. Here a masked couple attempt to enjoy Seoul’s skyline along the Han River almost entirely obscured by thick smog.
4 / 25
We tend to take water for granted, especially the when it comes out of our taps. It is our most precious resource and one that is becoming ever more scarce in a warming world due to climate change. India faces one of its toughest challenges as a developing nation this century as water resources become more scarce amongst a growing and thirsty population. Here a woman in a slum settlement in Delhi goes to collect water that only runs for two-hours per day every two days
5 / 25
Interisland migration occurring in real-time on the island nation of Kiribati, located in the Pacific Ocean. Kiribati is often dubbed as one of the most vulnerable nations on the planet to climate change and sea level rise, as its average elevation is only 2-3 metres above sea level. Many of the remote outer islands are feeling the impacts of climate change already; underground-freshwater lenses being contaminated by salt from rising sea levels and dramatic shoreline erosion from higher tides and extreme weather events. These, amongst other socio-economic factors, are pushing people to migrate to the more urbanised centre of Tarawa Island where resources are more readily available. However, migration to Tarawa is causing a plethora of issues from excess waste, both consumer and human; increasing pressure on limited freshwater resources; crowded and underdeveloped housing; and, health problems, such as diabetes, from increased consumption of processed foods. As the impacts of climate change increase, international migration from Kiribati has been suggested as part of an adaptive strategy. However, the social, cultural, political, and environmental implications of international climate migration are unknown and must be discussed on all levels.
6 / 25
A young girl carries water back to the village of Kumik, Zanskar Valley, India. Kumik, over the last few decades, has been directly exposed to the warming temperatures of the Himalaya due to climate change. For its entire history, Kumik relied on the glacier that carved down the mountainside behind the village. However, in recent decades that glacier has completely retreated to the top of the mountain and no longer supplies the village with water. Kumik’s people are now reliant on a small spring that struggles to provide them with water throughout the summer growing period placing them in continual drought conditions. Some families have begun to slowly or completely relocate their homes towards a new water source, the Zanskar River. The movement has caused many internal political and social divisions in the community. This case could be an example of instability in the future as more communities face climate-related issues
7 / 25
Fijian fishermen get ready to dive into the clear waters that cover Fiji's Great Sea Reef to catch their source of protein and income, Fish. The Oceans across the world are one of the most vital sources of human livelihood and survival. Seafood provides 3 billion people with a fifth of their protein intake and not to mention income earnt off small-scale fishing practices. On a grander scale, the oceans absorb much of the Carbon Dioxide emitted, which is leading to increasing amounts of ocean acidification. Along with acidification, temperatures in the world's oceans have also risen as global warming intensifies, which has led to mass coral bleaching and the die-off of many reefs. These processes are directly impacting people who rely on the ocean for their food and survival, which is, in essence, all of us.
8 / 25
These newly planted mangroves are part of Kiribati’s adaptive measures against sea-level rise. Kiribati’s string of islands are some of the most vulnerable locations on Earth, as many islands do not reach 3m above sea level. Almost all mangrove forests are located in the developing world and are increasingly at risk and being cleared faster than terrestrial rainforests. With climate change impacts knocking on the doors of many nations such as Kiribati, mangroves play a key role. Mangroves are carbon sinks, act as buffer zones against waves during harsh storms and cyclones, hold coastal banks together limiting land erosion and also act as the coastlines Kidney’s, filtering out pollutants, heavy metals and runoff sediment. Creating cleaner, clearer and healthier oceans.
9 / 25
The megalopolis of Seoul, South Korea with a metro area that is home to 25 million souls. Urbanization across the planet is not slowing down, and for the first time in history, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. How are climate change and cities related? In many ways. The vast majority of cities are located in coastal areas are extremely vulnerable to extreme weather conditions such as cyclones and floods, which are to increase in severity and number as climate change intensifies and sea levels rise. Cities also have ravenous appetites for energy with the majority originating from fossil fuels such as coal, which further releases enormous amounts of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere further warming the planet. However, dense cities have the potential to be one of the best tools in humanity's toolbox in our fight against climate change. Many people living in dense cities have vastly smaller carbon footprints compared to people in large houses in the suburbs, even if the roofs are covered in solar panels. Urban density also means smaller homes and less travel by car, which overall means less energy consumption and less stuff, all contributing to lower carbon footprints. Cities across the world, however, do require a vast shift in where they source their energy from moving away from fossil fuels. Now, with most people living in cities across the planet, this requirement is becoming a crucial issue.
10 / 25
20 years ago a community of landless peasant farmers moved from a drought-stricken area of rural Maharashtra to the megacity of Mumbai, India. They were dependent on the farmers that owned the land for their jobs. However, after successive droughts and monsoonal failures, the landless peasants could not find work on the farms. The community, over time, migrated to Mumbai, to a plot of land that was, then covered in trees. Since, they have watched the city grow around them, including a highway over their heads, and are now boxed in by two busy roads. For a long time economics and social push and pull factors determined the bulk of migratory patterns, however, as climate change intensifies, environmental factors will no doubt play larger roles in determining migratory patterns in the future.
11 / 25
Tazin Chezen, a resident of Lower Kumik village in the Zanskar Valley, Indian Himalaya, stands with her two children outside their newly built home. In recent decades past, Tazin's old village, Upper Kumik, as it is now called, has fallen into a state of perpetual drought. Upper Kumik, once relied on a glacier that ran down the mountain behind the village to supply them with ample water during the Summer months. Over the past decades due to warming impacts from climate change Upper Kumik's glacier has now completed retreated. These events forced people, like Tanzin, to relocate towards more reliable sources of water nearby the permanent Zanskar River on the valley floor. The relocation and search for water came with costs: disconnects between old and new communities, spending meagre saving to build a new home, and the canal that brought water up to the Lower Kumik from the river was destroyed by a lake outburst upriver. Now, both Lower and Upper Kumik resemble one another, waterless.
12 / 25
Roads have changed the way we live for centuries they have come with great benefits, but also high costs. People can transform their lives with the help of roads, such as this found in the Indian Himalaya, which has enabled remote regions access to the outside world, its goods, and information. However, roads have also encouraged increasing amounts of private vehicle usage and especially in this part of the world vehicles are all powered by diesel. Unfiltered, old, and not properly maintained diesel engines produce dark particulate matter aka soot. Studies of the Himalayan region have indicated that these particulates are partly the reason as to why the highest mountain range on Earth is warming faster than average of the global. They have been found to be absorbing more heat from the sun on the surface and in the atmosphere, which is exacerbating climate change’s warming effects leading to vast glacial retreat, warmer winters, and less snowfall.
13 / 25
A beachside slum in Mumbai, India. Locals told me that each year they are at war with the sea as it is a constant threat to their homes. Pictured, is a testament to that, where a home has all but crumbled. As climate change intensifies and warmer global temperatures lead to greater sea-level rise from melting ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic, vulnerable communities are going to be more susceptible to climate-related impacts. Generally speaking, poorer communities across the globe are more likely to be located in risk-prone areas. Rising seas in concert with stronger storm systems will no doubt in the future, and already are, impacting these populations that do not have the resources to adapt, rebuild constantly, or move.
14 / 25
Watching the livestock come home after days grazing on the high summer pastures in the village of Kumik, Zanskar Himalaya, India. Throughout the summer months, Kumik and scores of other villages, grow as much as they can to feed themselves and their livestock. In recent years due to warming summer temperatures and less winter snowfall, in part due to climate change, Kumik's glacier has now disappeared. In the past, the glacier was the village's reliable and sustainable source of water. In recent years, they have had to rely on a natural spring that is recharged by snowmelt and not nearly enough water is supplied. Due to the water shortages in 2016 the village had below average crop yields in the short summer growing season. In an extreme case, Kumik in the past, was subject to severe drought conditions, as the spring dried up before summer's end. This resulted in a lack of fodder for livestock and forced the villagers to sell off their livestock at dismal prices and then re-purchase more at full-price at a later date. Like any village in the Himalayas, livestock are crucial to community sustenance; providing clothing, milk, dung for fuel, and occasionally meat.
15 / 25
Kiribati, a small coral atoll nation located in the Pacific ocean is one of the first nations to face the early impacts of sea level rise due to climate change. Kiribati, at its highest elevation, is 3 metres above sea level. Much of the small landmass is significantly lower than the highest point. Over the past few decades, rising sea levels have contributed to vast amounts of land erosion and threatens people's very homes. Furthermore, as sea levels rise, scarce underground freshwater supplies are being contaminated by salt. On a normal high tide, waves bash homemade seawalls that barely prevent water from coming into peoples homes. Due to the increasingly dangerous threats, migration to other islands and overseas are adaptation methods that are taken seriously by people and Kiribati's government. However, migration as adaptation comes with serious costs ranging from cultural, monetary, and societal.
16 / 25
Building new homes in an uncertain future. The village of Kumik in the Zanskar Himalayan range in India’s north-west has watched their glacier disappear over recent decades from warming temperatures. The ice once upon a time ran right down to the village. These days, as pictured in the background, it has fully retreated and meltwater from the ice no longer flows to Kumik. This massive loss of regular water has contributed or arguably is the cause of so many of the village’s problems. From lowering yields, crop failures, lack of fodder for livestock and increasing political divisions within the village. Water binds all these together. As the globe warms water issues, here and elsewhere in the world, will be one of the most paramount issues that humanity faces and must address and adapt to. A drier planet will most certainly shift the way we have developed our species over thousands of years.
17 / 25
Slums of Mumbai, India. Energy puts on an incredible show at night and reminds you that millions of people are alive, surviving, and going through the daily grind. So much of our energy is sourced from fossil fuels that are responsible for vast amounts of air pollution and CO2 emissions that cause climate change. However, fossil fuels have been and still are responsible for the development of billions of people worldwide. There is no other source of concentrated energy that is so cheap, accessible, and transportable. This is why it is so important that global leaders take into consideration multiple solutions and adaptations to wean our society off our fossil fuel addiction. If people are to be lifted out of poverty, alternative energy sources need to be just as cheap and accessible. Subsidies play a large part in this game, and there is a dire need to shift subsidies away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources. Energy is a central factor to the betterment of people's lives. Without it nothing is possible.
18 / 25
19 / 25
Bath time for the little one in the village of Komic, Spiti Valley, India. Komic is a village located on a plateau and is dependent on spring water for their agricultural and household needs. All but two springs run all summer long now as most have dried out. Over the past few decades, this remote Himalayan region has received lowering amounts of winter snowfall, which has led to the lack of recharge for the springs that the people depend on. Climate change and the warming of the region has had a large part to play in this shift of patterns that have not changed in thousands of years. Komic, now more than ever before, is heading into an ongoing drought.
20 / 25
Man in New Delhi, India, breaks up coal on the side fo the street to use as fuel for the fires so their business can stay open. Recently, environmental policy expert, Michael Shellenberger, gave a TED talk and was quoted saying, "We're not in a clean energy revolution; we're in a clean energy crisis." He isn't wrong. Despite all the amazing developments and stories surrounding renewables, such as solar and wind, data paints a rather sobering message. According to the International Energy Agency's data, as of 2013, coal still accounts for 41% of global electricity generation and is expected to increase with the development of nations such as India and China. Solar, wind, geothermal, etc. account for 5.7% of global electricity supply. If we include clean electricity sources such as nuclear and hydro - the clean sources of energy account for 32.6% Despite this, fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, used to produce electricity far outpaces clean electricity and are expected to rise with increases in population and living standards.
21 / 25
A man turns over his harvested livestock fodder to dry in the Himalayan summer sun. All of this fodder is collected and stored every winter to feed the cows, goats, and sheep during winter. It all requires a reliable source of water to grow. As climate change intensifies, water resources in the Himalayas will dwindle. Glaciers across the mountain range are in vast retreat due to warming temperatures. The glaciers are not only the source of water for people living in the mountains but also billions of people downstream in Asia.
22 / 25
Diesel powered trucks delivering goods into remote regions of the Indian Himalaya region. Roads have changed the way people live in a significant way. They have made life easier and more accessible to the outside world for the region, as pictured. From a climate perspective roads and vehicles have been a primary source of carbon emissions throughout the world releasing vast amounts of CO2 and contributing to climate change. Climate change is affecting the Himalayan region in a myriad of ways. From water scarcity to retreating glaciers to crop failures and food shortages. It is a catch-22 situation currently, as these climate-related issues are increasingly becoming noticeable, roads and vehicles, are enabling communities to adapt to the changes by supplying them with food supplies and the like. However, these outsourced goods are only a short-term adaptation method against climate change and its effects in the region. Much of it is dependent on the fluctuating price of oil, road maintenance, and continuous good harvests from lower altitude agricultural areas. All these and more could change in a short period, which would create problems along this supply chain.
23 / 25
Buddhist nun hitch-hiking on a remote road in the Zanskar Valley, India. We stopped to pick her up. All throughout this valley and others throughout the Himalaya, locals explain that the mountains (4000m+), of which they call home, once had permanent snowcaps all-year round no more than a decade ago. Due to climate change, summers in the Indian Himalayas are becoming warmer and longer, and winters are no longer bringing as much snowfall as they used to. With reduced snowfall and warmer temperatures, this warming effect is putting significant strain on water resources for countless communities.
24 / 25
The retreating Drang Drung glacier in India's Zanskar Valley. The global thermostat is being turned up by carbon and black carbon emissions and the glaciers are some of the first signs of a warming world. They are all melting at significant rates, especially so in the Himalayas. In this image pools of water are forming at the end of the ice that, according to locals, was hundreds of metres longer and thicker no more than 40 years ago. "We used to go skiing on Drang Drung. Now it is impossible," said Urgain Dorjey, a Zanskar local and trekking guide. Small streams are also forming on top of the ice.
25 / 25
Retreating glacier from a car window in the Indian Himalaya. Studies that have surveyed glacier cover across the Himalaya have shown that glaciers across the region are in a general state of retreat, and their mass has been significantly declining. From my anecdotal observations, every glacier that I passed in this valley, were all in retreat. The Himalayas are second, only to the Arctic, to be warming at a pace that the rest of the world is yet to experience. Carbon dioxide emissions, from the burning of fossil fuels, blanket the earth and keep it significantly warmer by not letting solar energy escape back into space are contributing to this great thawing of ice. This process is climate change in its most basic explanation. The glacial melting puts long-term water security at risk for billions of people that depend on the rivers that originate from the highest mountain range on earth.
Climate Change Climate change represents the largest existential threat to civilization as we know it. For tens of thousands of years, the globe has experienced relatively stable climatic conditions. This has enabled us to be where we are today. The discovery and use of fossil fuels accelera...