Photographing disaster before it happens is difficult, but more valuable than waiting until it has become news. UG99, a kind of wheat stem rust devastating wheat crops in the Middle East, is just such a case.
Jim ponders what is effective in environmental photography? What will actually work? What can you photograph, or instance, that will result in the survival of elephants? More elephant pictures? Maybe, but we’ve seen a lot of pictures of elephants already. Has that worked to save elephants? Perhaps, some. How about hard hitting documentaries about elephant poaching, especially if it results in increased funding for anti-poaching enforcement? Better, but maybe not enough – still. Jim argues that the question of actual effectiveness often gets lost when it should be at the forefront of our thinking.
When it comes to environmental coverage, Jim wishes the underlying causes would get more attention than the hot news stories of the day. He puts it this way: "Sometimes we pay too much attention to the rapids when we should be paying attention to the river. The rapids are interesting, but the river is important."
It is an era in history when humanity has become the dominant force on earth. Enduring impacts of our expanding enterprise have become visible and measurable worldwide. Earth’s landscapes, ecosystems, ice, rivers, oceans, and atmosphere have all been affected. As a result, scientists have proposed a new geologic epoch called The Anthropocene to mark this impact.