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The Way We Live Is Destroying Our Planet

No one wants to believe that our lifestyles are destroying the planet, much less that our choices, and often willingness to look the other way makes us complicit. But environmentalist and photographer J Henry Fair’s new book lays out the tragic effects created by human consumption on our planet. His photos capture large-scale industrial sites to show how everything we buy has a hidden cost above and beyond the price we pay for it. These costs include climate change, contaminated water, polluted air, lost habitat, and exploited people.

Think of these images as a surveillance camera for the planet, recording the biggest crimes against nature we’ve ever imagined. Images like these will be the standards around which we muster. – Bill McKibben, 350.org

Fair’s photographs are beautiful. Their shapes, colors and details give them an aesthetically pleasing quality that clashes with the message of this book. But the connections he makes between the state of our world and the causes for its degradation are undeniable. These photos lead the reader on a journey that reaches over ridges and fences that hide destructive large-scale industrial activities, such as drilling for oil; hydro-fracking; coal ash disposal; abandoned mined lands; and large-scale agricultural production. And collectively, the photographs show that our ever-increasing demand for energy, food choices, and rampant consumerism are rapidly leading to the demise of our planet.

Images Accompanied by Alarming Text

But there is more. Each of Fair’s images are accompanied by detailed explanations from award-winning science writer, Lewis Smith. Smith carefully explains each the costs of each industrial process on our environment. He also links these costs to our rampant consumerism and unfettered economic growth. The persistent message from the deliberate pairing of words and photographs is clear – our lifestyle choices and polices created to support them are unequivocally destroying the earth. Unless we change our habits, the world – as we have known it – no longer will exist for future generations to enjoy.

This is a solemn and sobering message with which to begin the new year. But J. Henry Fair’s gift to eat one of us to first understand the consequences of our consumption, and then motivate us to act. Links to both the book and to the One Earth Project which includes resources for “one-earth living” are presented below. Let’s not just mourn our actions, but instead, work together to create systems that ensure all people have what they need for a dignified life without harming one another or further destroying our home.

Note: The banner photo by J. Henry Fair shows the oil plume from the 2010 BP Horizon spill.


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