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Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography


Michelle I. Seelig

Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography is a modern look at how photographers visualize what is happening to people and places on a changing planet. Michelle I. Seelig draws attention to what compels photographers to focus on these important messages, what tools they are using to advocate for just causes, and how photographers engage directly with citizens in a meaningful conversation beyond the photograph. Photographers continue to document the land and nature as they always have; however, today they use all media to advocate wide-ranging environmental concerns. Photographers, filmmakers, and environmentalists engage the public with visual and technologically driven content that is both affordable and portable, allowing advocacy to transcend boundaries in the global community previously overlooked by traditional media. This innovative book showcases strategies practiced by photographers, environmentalists, and advocacy groups in the twenty-first century and will serve as inspiration for future advocates of environmental issues and other important and just causes. Accessible and user-friendly, Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography is a must-read for both future photographers and individuals interested in communicating and advocating for environmental and social change.
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Chapter 1: Communicating the Environment


Chapter 1

Over the past fifty years, society’s awareness about environmental issues has steadily increased. Mostly, the public believes environmental threats such as acid rain, pollution, deforestation, and toxic chemicals pose a risk to the environment, but by far, the greatest threat to Earth’s survival is global warming (Pew, 2012; 2013b, 2014). These threats are largely perceived as impacts to people in remote and distant places, NOT localized, and therefore, threats to the environment considered a low priority (Gallup, 2014; Leiserowitz et al., 2014; Nixon, 2011). Rhetoric communicating environmental issues has mostly been inundated with numbers, that is, until the overwhelming visual proof of human activities as the primary cause of global warming was depicted in Vice President Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Momentum continued as a direct result of President Barack Obama’s forceful position concerning our need to do more to protect our natural resources. (This approach is in direct contrast to President George W. Bush’s position when he was in office.) After the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy in the northeast and public endorsement of President Obama by Mayor Bloomberg for his fervent position that more needs to be done to mitigate impacts and fight climate change, the pivotal moment to address environmental threats resurfaced (Lederman, 2012; Sheppard, 2014). Soon after the announcement to take action, mainstream news shifted to the economic crisis, healthcare reform, turbulence in the Middle East, tensions between Russia and the Ukraine, the Israel-Gaza conflict, Ebola outbreak, and most recently ISIS...

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