The Warmest Place on Earth

This series is a cautionary tale against the climate crisis  and a celebration of Earth's own resilience and beauty. Earth was there long before humanity and will exist long after we're gone. I want my work to be a reminder that what's really at stake is the future of our civilisation, and that if we want to preserve it, it is our responsibility to change our path.

Like many others, I didn't know what the climate crisis was until I saw it with my own eyes. 

 

In 2010 I was intellectually aware of environmental issues and took an interest in Environmental Economics. During my exchange semester at the  University of Sydney, I signed up for a class called Economics of Minerals and Energy Industries. All students had to go on a field trip to Hunter Valley, NSW, where we visited a coal mine and a power plant and met a member of the local city council. He explained to us the environmental damages and health issues related to the local coal industry.

 

I remember standing on the edge of the huge hole in the ground that is a coal mine. Listening to that man telling of the suffering of his neighbours. Watching the grey smoke rise up from the chimneys of the power plant. I was finally, inevitably facing the consequences of human activities on the environment. Since then, I could never stop seeing them everywhere and I began to capture them on camera.

 

This experience triggered the still ongoing series of changes in what I eat, what I believe, in my career choices, in how I travel, in what I do with my free time. My hope is that my work will inspire other people to change, too.

The Warmest Place on Earth - Death Valley, January 2016

The name of the project was inspired by my trip to Death Valley, one of the most dramatically beautiful places I have ever visited and the warmest place on Earth. Not only holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded (54° Celsius, in June 2013), but also for the hottest month ever recorded. In July 2018 the average temperature in Death Valley was 42° C, reaching peaks of 53° C. 

High and Dry - Sierra Nevada del Cucuy, Colombia, 2019

Most of Colombia's water, which is used both for drinking and producing electricity, comes from two main sources, and they are both endangered by climate change. All of its glaciers are in the North Andean region, and they have been retreating for decades. Scientists warned that they might entirely disappear within 30 years. The Paramo is a mountain ecosystem that only exists in South and Central America. The flora here has adapted to certain temperature and altitudes, and has a fundamental role in capturing the water and delivering it back into the river system. Due to rising temperatures and higher demand for farmland the vegetation is losing its habitat, and due to the extreme altitude, it will not be able to adapt by simply migrating higher up. The disappearance of the two ecosystems would mean water scarcity, loss of biodiversity - Colombia has the highest concentration of biodiversity for surface in the world - and disrupt agriculture and energy production (~80% of the country electricity is hydroelectric).

Not Ok - Iceland, 2019

Iceland is famous for its dramatic landscapes of glacial and volcanic wastelands, that granted it the nickname of the land of ice and fire. But many don't know that Iceland's glaciers have already been retreating for decades due to global warming, and one of them has melted to the point of losing its status of glacier. The Ok mountain, formerly known as Okjökull (jökull  means glacier in Icelandic), is located in the western part of the country, whereas most of the glaciers I visited are outlets of the massive Vatnajökull, in the South-East. If all Icelandic glaciers would melt, they could submerge the entire country below 30 m of water, or raise global sea level by one cm. For more resources visit the website of the Vatnajökull - Melting Glaciers project or my blog article for more photos.

The Abyss - North-Rhine Westphalia, 2018

Germany remains Europe's biggest CO2 emitter and this is largely due to lignite mining and energy production. Despite the existence of alternative energy sources the Government is stalling in the definition of the terms for the coal phase-out and not meeting its goal in terms of emission reductions and transition to renewables. Besides causing global warming, lignite mining is responsible for depleting water resources, destroying ecosystems (like the Hambach Forest) and villages, and the relocation of thousands of people. More on the topic in this article or in these videos.

Long Hot Summer - Hamburg, 2018

Like most of Europe, mid-July through mid-August 2018, Germany was hit by a massive heat wave. The unseasonal temperatures led to record low water levels and record high temperatures in lakes and rivers causing trouble to navigation and killing fish by the thousands. Farmers all over the country, faced with unpredictability, have been pleading to the Government for drought-aid, and the wine makers have begun the earliest wine harvest in German history.

Sargassum - Yucatán Peninsula, 2017

Since 2015 Caribbean beaches are suffering from a Sargassum outbreak. The algae have started washing up in large quantities, causing hassles for tourism and occasionally intoxication due to decay fumes. The rise in sea temperatures is causing both large quantities of algae to detach from the sea bottom and the change in sea currents that causes the algae to land on the Caribbean shores. Fertiliser-rich wastewater is also suspected to be contributing to the outbreak. During the same trip,  I witnessed the beginning of Hurricane Franklin: formed in the Atlantic off the coast of Belize, it swept over the peninsula as a tropical storm before hitting the Gulf states of Veracruz and Campeche. It was the first hurricane to hit Mexico since 2010.

The Drought - California, 2016

Between 2011 and 2017 California experienced a massive drought. Until the 2014, the land was at its ever recorded driest. Despite being declared concluded in early 2017 (thanks to the wettest windet ever recorded) the draught came back in 2018 and currently about 86% of the state is suffering from some level of abnormal dryness.

 

The Endless Rain Season - Australia, 2011

The Australian cyclone season of 2010-11, recorded as a near average one, included tropical cyclone Yasi, considered the strongest to hit Queensland since 1918, and Tropical cyclone Carlos, which shattered the rainfall records in the Northern Territories.  Many crops were destroyed and the price of Queensland produce skyrocketed in the Australian supermarkets. Due to intense and longer-than-usual rainfall, the Outback remained in bloom during the usually dry months of April and May, while the Tropical North remained flooded.