World View of Global Warming -- a 15 year perspective and accomplishments.
World View of Global Warming, which began in 1999 with an assignment to Antarctica, is the only dedicated climate change science and action documentation project independently undertaken by a photojournalist. It is funded by donations, grants, image and book sales and assignments; donations and grants are accepted as tax-deductible contributions through Blue Earth Alliance which passes through 96 percent of all funds.
When I designed the project in 1998, my mission was defined to tell to tell the story of rapid climate change –- and the actions it makes necessary -- with scientifically accurate and compelling photographs that reached the public world wide. I knew as a photojournalist the power of a picture, and that people needed to see images of the changing climate’s impact on this planet. Seeing is believing. The images and words have been widely used, published and honored in books, films, museums, scientific displays and public forums and classrooms.
The range of intended outcomes of World View of Global Warming begins with unforgettable images and continues with long-term observations, wide publication, rich documentation, scientific accuracy, and inspiration to others. In recent years the value of this work has been evident to the U.S. Congress and the White House Office of Science and Technology; scientists’ presentations and seminars; United Nations meetings and publications; museums and public events in Washington, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London and a hundred other cities; developers of Ipad/Iphone apps; professors, teachers, schools and children; filmmakers and artists; NGOs across the world; millions of news website viewers and thousands of individuals.
The value of my work has been recognized with awards: Named one of the most influential nature photographers in the world and recognized by the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography. My comprehensive book Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming Is Changing the World is on a Vanity Fair list of the best environmental books of all time and available in paper and e-book. The follow-on children’s book written with Lynne Cherry won 16 awards for writing and education, and inspired a widely distributed film series on kids’ climate change projects. My pioneering visual messages using repeat images of changed landscapes and the people whose lives are threatened have been constantly re-published in books and magazines and have encouraged others to take up cameras in this cause. Toxicologist and community health scientist Dr. Joan Rothlein joined me in this work in 2010.
Large color photograph prints from the project were on display to the more than million visitors to the Boston Museum of Science from June 2013 to January 2014. A photo story about the increase in coal mining in Wyoming and implications for climate and community health was published by the Daily Climate, Grist, and Scientific American news websites.
In 2012, grants and project support brought our photojournalism project to the Himalayas for the first time to report on the effects of climate change on ecosystems, glaciers, and villages. In the U.S., we made headlines and wide reproduction with photographs of how close a Shell Oil rig may be to the protected coast of Alaska – a melding of my coverage of energy and environment. We updated my pioneering documentation of climate science in Alaska with new images of melting tundra, disappearing sea ice and scientists at work. A journey through Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas resulted in a portfolio and follow up news on the 2012 drought with a focus on farmers’ stories and the devastation to the corn crop. Also in 2012 we co-developed an Ipad and Iphone app ‘“Painting with Time: Climate Change” that broke new ground in climate education and visualization and was first on a list of top climate apps. This productive year followed work in 2011 on the Pacific Islands of Tuvalu and Kiribati, America’s Southeast coasts with loss of land to sea level rise and erosion, the Mississippi River flood, and NOAA’s CO2 observatory in Hawaii. Also in 2011large prints and projected displays became features of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ innovative “Daily Planet” wing, and the Koshland Museum of the National Academies of Science.
The beginning of World View of Global Warming
I am an environmental photographer who during more than 20 years into the late 1990s reported on natural history in many parts of the world. In the course of many of these assignments, scientists mentioned changes occurring over long time spans that might be due to global warming. Very few of these changes or scientists at work were being photographed.
"There is compelling evidence from all over the world that our planet's weather and climate patterns are changing rapidly," began my initial proposal in Fall 1998. "Droughts, receding glaciers and ice caps, extreme storms, rises in ocean temperatures and sea levels, shifts in distribution of organisms and diseases - scientists tracking these events overwhelmingly believe that global climate change is a fact. Many think human activities are a significant contributing cause. But this is not the message getting to the general public, nor is our political, industrial and environmental superstructure dealing well with the reality."
The proposal continued: "This is a generally misunderstood and muted issue. It is a serious challenge to journalists, photographers, and public interest publications. Helping to correct this, to illustrate the changes and research and publicize our stake in and possible responsibility for global warming, are the goals of this project. Gary Braasch will photograph areas on all continents that illustrate documented results of climate change. He is also seeking to repeat historic photographs to show the changes. He will work with environmental groups, scientists and editors to educate the public, urging government and corporate sectors to more directly address the reality of climate change."
In December 1998, this proposal received backing from Blue Earth Alliance, and initial funding was secured from the Wiancko Family Fund. Early in 1999 I sought advice from Dr. Ray Bradley of University of Massachusetts and Dr. Bruce Peterson of the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole MA, among other scientists. Early advisors included Ms. Bobbi Baker Burrows, Photography Editor LIFE Magazine; (the late) Ms. Jane Kinne, editor and photography consultant; Dr. Terry Chapin, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska; Dr. Daniel Lashof, Chief Scientist, NRDC Climate Center; Mr. David Lyman, Director and Founder Maine Photographic Workshops; leaders of Blue Earth Alliance: Phil Borges, Natalie Fobes, Julee Geyer and David Johnson; Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, Evergreen State College WA; Mr. David Friend, Conde Nast publications; Mr. Tom Campion, conservationist; Drs. Camille Parmesan and Michael Singer, University of Texas; Dr. Thomas Lovejoy of the Heinz Center; and many other scientists, editors, conservationists and friends.
The first photography specifically for this project took place on a Discover Magazine assignment to a National Science Foundation geologic research cruise to Antarctic Peninsula ice sheets and glaciers. By the end of 1999, I had crossed both the Antarctic and Arctic Circles accompanying field researchers. The website worldviewofglobalwarming.org was begun in 2002.
In 2004 and 2005 I completed a first stage of photography in 22 nations thanks to renewed grants from the Wiancko Family Trust and a book advance from University of California Press. This book was published in October 2007 under the title Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World. It features not only reports from scientists on our changing world, but also an extended chapter on what is being done now to keep global warming under control. To view the book, please visit EarthUnderFire.com.
Other major accomplishments of World View of Global Warming include exhibits at Chicago’s Field Museum, the Minnesota Science Museum, in a display for the 40th Anniversary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and two exhibits at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. The United Nations has published my images as calendars and international postage stamps, of which 4.2 million were sold worldwide in 2008 and 2009. The project This Is Climate Change displayed my glacier change images as a billboard in the concourse of Reagan National Airport, Washington DC, 2012-13.
Photographs from the World View of Global Warming are available for license to publications needing science photography, environmental groups and agencies, and other uses. Stock photography and assignments available.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Gary Braasch Photography (503) 860-1228.
Use of photographs in any manner, in part or whole, without permission is prohibited by US copyright law.
© 2014 and before. These photographs are registered with the US Copyright Office and are not in the Public Domain.