Polar bears, burning forests and swollen chimneys are the most common images to accompany articles on climate change. But the scope of the crisis is much broader and more nuanced than the pretty Arctic creatures or the apocalyptic hellish landscapes.
Two efforts introduced at the recent TED Countdown Environmental Conference aim to improve the picture pool for these stories and, in fact, give people a big picture of the climate change emergency. They arrived just in time for media coverage of the upcoming UN COP26 meeting in Glasgow, where government officials from around the world will negotiate a coordinated response to climate change.
Free photo bank verified by climate scientists
Climate Visuals is a library of 100 high-quality photographs, free for editorial publications, educators or non-profit organizations. Selected from a pool of 5,000 submissions, a panel of climatologists and communications experts reviewed the photographs based on an established set of criteria and rejected any organized photo op.
Most of the photos on Climate Visuals evoke a hopeful aspect. “The climate crisis can be overwhelming. It’s depressing, so you have to have a little optimism, ”says Toby Smith, a seasoned photographer who runs the Climate Visuals program. “If you show the danger and the possible solution, that’s a pretty powerful story.”
For Smith, polar bears don’t make a difference. “It’s a distant problem; they are far away and we have very little contact with them, ”he says. “They mean climate change, but they’re emotionally or behaviorally unnecessary. “
Smith says he’s especially thrilled to receive so many submissions from amateur photographers who took unexpected angles on the crisis with their cellphones. “What makes me so happy is that more than 100 countries are represented, [the] the contributors are almost gender neutral and 15% were under the age of 18, for which we had to obtain the consent of the guardian, ”he explains. Thanks to a grant from the organization TED, Climate Visuals was able to compensate each photographer $ 1,000, based on industry standards.
Smith says Climate Visuals aspires to work with large news and photo distribution services such as Reuters and AP to diversify their reels on climate change, as well as small publications that cannot afford photo subscriptions. premium.
Illustrators for climate action
Meanwhile, a group of illustrators, typographers and letter artists contributed to a project called Artists for Climate. Their 96 digital illustrations are free to use or adapt for non-commercial purposes.
Illustrations are published under the Creative Commons-Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC-BY-NC-SA), which allows the illustration to be used freely with appropriate credit to the artist. Each artwork has been conveniently sized for social media and high-res apps, and native design files are even included so that the artwork can be edited.
In a press release, Yana Buhrer Tavanier, co-founder of Fine Acts, the organization behind the project, said she hopes “the open-licensed visual art treasure will serve as a resource and invaluable tool for activists, grassroots organizations and non-profit organizations to use in their climate change awareness campaigns.