Can we use photography to battle climate change? Camille Seaman, photographer and TED Senior Fellow, thinks so.
The San Francisco photographer, who is part Native American (she attributes her profound appreciation for nature to this heritage), travelled from pole to pole for about a decade, photographing enormous ice formations - some of them the size of London suburbs - breaking away and melting as sea temperatures rose. She talks in almost spiritual terms about these icebergs: "The very first iceberg left me struggling to comprehend the size and shape of it...It made me feel very insignificant and left me with a huge and profound and deep respect for them."
A few years after making her last polar trip in 2011, every single iceberg she has photographed no longer exists. Seaman fears that it won’t be long before the last one of these beautiful, imposing, almost supernatural marvels of nature melts and ceases to exist entirely.
Today she hopes that her photographs might help draw attention to climate change, and perhaps even inspire people to do something about it. Even head-in-the-sand, climate-change-denying skeptics would struggle not to be moved by her magnificent photographs of polar bears on melting ice, of hauntingly-beautiful ice formations, of unspoilt natural beauty.
Her photos continue appearing in magazines worldwide, illustrating the issue and explaining what might be done to slow the change. She’s also a senior TED fellow; she created The Earth Academy, an online educational resource about sustainable living; and she is a member of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future. People often ask her what they might do to address climate change. Rather than offer the typical answers—minimize your carbon footprint, recycle, etc.—she turns the question around and asks people what they might like to do about it. It’s not her job to tell people what to do, she says, but she feels a responsibility to engage in the conversation.