Hurricane Alex

January 16, 2016

BW photograph of a boom truck in front of a building

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

For the first time since 1938, a January hurricane has formed in the Atlantic“.  This was NPR’s headline of this unusual event from earlier in the week.  The storm has since been downgraded but, nonetheless…

John Szarkowski writes in The Photographer’s Eye: “The heroic documentation of the American Civil War by the Brady group, and the incomparably larger photographic record of the Second World War, have this in common:  neither explained, without extensive captioning, what was happening.  The function of these pictures was not to make the story clear, it was to make it real.”

Real.

It is possible to shrug off Hurricane Alex as an aberration.  However, give Mr. James Balog’s Chasing Ice a view.  (For additional information, please go to Mr. Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey website.)  I have repeatedly linked to this documentary as the photographs, and videography, provide clear visual evidence of the feedback loop between human activity, the melting of the world’s ice, rising temperatures and sea levels, and the subsequent impact on more localized weather patterns.  This is a strong dose of photographic reality, which is, of course, undeniable.

It is also important to note that the release date of Chasing Ice was September, 2013.

Layered over this is the climate change agreement reached in Paris late last year-Rolling Stone magazine recently published this report on the talks, and it is worth a read.  As described, a major factor in the success of this conference are the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”-the voluntary measures each participating nation has pledged to make as part of this agreement.  Many have expressed skepticism that all of the 195 participating countries will keep to the pledges, and, even if they do, it will most likely not be enough to meet the overall goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.7 degree Fahrenheit).  President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping, had reached an earlier agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and that, too, was significant as China and the United States have the dubious distinction of being #1 and #2 globally for emissions.  However, circumstances change:  the United States will be electing a successor to President Obama later this year.  (It is significant that the wording of the Paris agreement was done in such a manner so as to not need approval from Congress).  China’s economics recently took a steep plunge, and, in combination with the price of a barrel of oil dropping below $30, many other world markets followed.

Will the political will/commitment and economic resources remain?

Take care.

 

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