The website had just been a teaser for the Dec. 7 premiere of Consequences by Noor, a multi-faceted essay “on the devastating effects of climate change around the globe.” Released to coincide with the Copenhagen climate change talks currently going on, Noor has scheduled a number of exhibitions and events in Copenhagen. The work is now available online: Nina Berman’s “Pine Beetles,” Kadir van Lohuizen’s “Brazil’s Range War: Assault on the Amazon,” Jan Grarup’s “And then there was silence,” Stanley Greene’s “Shadows of Change,” Jon Lowenstein’s “In the Oil Sands,” Philip Blenkinsop’s “The Fires Within: The Burning Coalfields of Jharia, India,” Francesco Zizola’s “A Paradise in Peril,” Yuri Kozyrev’s “Karabash and the Yamal Peninsula,” and Pep Bonet’s “Poland’s Coal Industry.” Additionally, if you happen to be in Copenhagen, there are 50,000 copies of a special English-language newspaper devoted to Consequences, produced by Danish newspaper Information. The sidebar of the site also says that Consequences will be on tour in 2010. Hopefully I’ll get to see it in person.
Beyond the fantastic work by each of the photographers involved in Consequences, I’m particularly interested in the distribution model for the work. Rather than focus on getting the photojournalism out to a wide audience in the traditional publishing model, Consequences’ goal seems to be getting the work seen first by people in power to make a change. I think it’s a valuable strategy. While there is a strong role for these essays to play in informing the general public about specific effects of global climate change, the public may well have reached a point of saturation for these sorts of stories. A strategic shift in intended audience, from mass public to people with influence and power, could have momentous results. Colin Powell famously cited the influence of Platon’s photos in his endorsement of Obama. More to the point, Nick Nichol‘s photos of the forests of Gabon helped persuade the country’s president to create a nature preserve comprising 1/10th of the Gabon’s land. I’m sure the Copenhagen summit attendees have been staring at spreadsheets and white papers for months leading up to this summit, heads dizzy with hard data and statistical models. The photos in Consequences will put a face on the abstract issues of global climate change for those most able to make a difference in the international environmental agenda. The photographers’ work will likely have great effect during these first few days.