I grew up in Michigan and expect severe winter weather occasionally. However this year set a record in sub-zero wind chills. It is the first time I remember spending holiday celebrations through early January in multiple layers of winter clothes. It is not only the Midwest suffering this winter. In its coverage of the January California mudslides and the destruction of homes in wealthy Santa Barbara county, The New York Times recently noted that it is only the latest in a string of natural disasters signaling evidence of climate change.
Late last year was punctuated by three devastating hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria. The newspaper reported that “ extreme weather that scientists say is partly attributed to climate change” caused more than $306 billion in damage, a record that surpassed even the $215 billion cost of natural disasters in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The figure goes up dramatically if you include damage from fires and rains in California this year.
And that’s the mainland. Months after two category 5 hurricanes pummeled Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, both are still struggling to get all the lights on – nearly half of Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million people still do not have electricity. That’s more than 100 days after Maria cut a brutal path across the island.
There’s still a lot of resistance to the idea of climate change and its causes. My hope is that attention will shift from denial to focus on the optimism and innovation that defined America for so long – optimism that that we can lead the world in softening this disaster with sensible actions. We already have the research and expertise to prevail. Extreme temperatures, hot or cold, are here and increasingly impossible to deny.
Photographer Carolyn Monastra, a good friend from Brooklyn, recently posted her latest
adventures in recording climate change around the world. I wrote about her project, The Witness Tree, last year when she
first began her journey – and I wanted to share an update now that she is half-way through her travels.
If you want a riveting first-hand account of how a village in Thailand is forced to keep retreating from rising sea tides,
take a moment to read Carolyn’s latest blog at http://witnesstreephotography.wordpress.com/
The blog includes background information about the artist and how you can support her amazing project.
Brooklyn landscape photographer Carolyn Monastra recently completed an adventure-filled ride down the Amazon River in February as she continued her travels to record the effects of climate change. I first wrote last fall about her project The Witness Tree, which will continue to take Carolyn around the world this year to document sites affected by the warming temperatures. I wanted to track her artistic project further, because I believe it is a truly courageous one, funded by a grant as well as donations.
Carolyn is targeting international locations like the Amazon River that represent a diversity of natural environments and cultures to demonstrate, in her words, “that this is indeed a global epidemic.” She started her current travels in Costa Rica, where she first visited two permaculture farms started by concerned citizens working to restore Mother Earth’s Greenery. This was a fun-filled side-trip showcasing heroic farming efforts by volunteers from the U.S. and other countries to thwart climate change. She then chronicled her visit to the threatened Monteverde Cloud Forest. This usually misty forest has environmentalists concerned, she says, because it is being affected by warming temperatures which are causing its vital clouds to form higher up in the atmosphere, decreasing the number of misty days during the dry season. She has amazing photographs of the flora and fauna in the forest that are already being affected, and she especially loves the beautiful orchids.
Her next posting was even further south in Antarctica, where she reported that ice is melting more in this region than anywhere else in the world and the rate of melting is accelerating more rapidly than was initially thought. Ninety percent of the world’s ice and about 70 percent of the world’s fresh water is contained in Antarctica, she warns. Despite the subzero cold, Carolyn can’t find enough superlatives to describe the beauty of the scenery as she eagerly photographs it. She also issues an alarm about the consequences facing the rest of the world if this rate of melting continues.
As Carolyn heads into the seventh month of her journey, I hope you won’t want to miss the opportunity to share the drama of her latest explorations, including her dramatic photographs of the Amazon Rainforest, on her blog at http://witnesstreephotography.wordpress.com/ . Carolyn’s Witness Tree Project is both an incredible educational experience and a tribute to the power of one individual in our global media age.
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My Ditmas Park neighbor and friend Carolyn Monastra is a landscape photographer on a mission.
She’s just returned from photographing the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana and reports that of the 150 original glaciers, only 25 remain – and those are expected to be gone by 2030 at the latest. That’s only one of the areas affected by climate change that made her decide to create a project called The Witness Tree so that she could document breathtaking natural beauty around the world that is fast disappearing.
You still have a few days to learn more about her amazing work and help Carolyn raise additional funds by logging onto the websites listed below. At the very least, give yourself the pleasure of reviewing her spectacular photography!
To make a donation:
To learn more about Carolyn’s project:
To watch a video discussion about her work with artists Zach Keeting and Chris Joy:
How global warming is making hurricanes like Irene worse: