The global award in photography and sustainability

Sebastian Copeland

Scale and light. That is how I will remember Antarctica. As I review six cumulative weeks’ worth of intense shooting, I am awed by the raw power of nature in this surreal environment, where such gigantic proportions, yet again, dwarf mankind.

Towering volcanic peaks plunge precipitously into the sea; glaciers nonchalantly and inexorably pour into the ocean, where chunks of ice the size of city blocks carry their last hurray as they float away to their inescapable fate. Trapped-in frozen air bubbles are hundred of thousands of years’ worth of environmental data.

Aside from the broad areas ominously uncovered by ice, and the suspiciously eroding rain, one definitely gets the sense that Antarctica holds untold amounts of geological and climatic secrets – a dynamic environment, rich in mammal and sea life, never conquered by humans.

Yet, remotely, and systematically, greed and ignorance are spoiling this extraordinary place, as global temperatures threaten the ice, so crucial to the climate balance of our planet. In the last sixty years, the poles have warmed up to more than twice the rate of the rest of the world, while the Antarctica Peninsula, the area photographed in this book, has warmed by up to five times the global average. I wonder if, in the future, people will even have the privilege of witnessing what I have seen; and what will they think, then, of those generations who waited so long before taking action.

The poles hold 30 per cent of the world’s water, and Antarctica, 90 per cent of its fresh water. Melting ice is projected to raise ocean levels as much as twenty feet within as little as a century, threatening to displace up to 80 per cent of the world’s population. Within as little as 80 years, 35 per cent of the world’s species will disappear. Polar bears will be extinct in the North, and many Penguins species will disappear in the South… and the one question that remains: what arrogance is borne out of Man which does not see the significance of this profound and irrevocable loss?

What better way to experience great music but to share it?

The same is true of images. I am grateful for the chance to share these, and for the privilege to invite you into your world. To celebrate this magnificent landscape is also a way for me to  remember how fragile and precarious it is. This is your home. Welcome to Antarctica.

Sebastian Copeland