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  • Writer's pictureCristina Mittermeier

Beauty in a Time of Crisis

 I find it incredibly hard to look at the news these days, as much for the horrors they show as for the ones they ignore. The two wars that occupy the news cycle are equally horrific to the ones we ignore. There are over 20 violent conflicts on Earth today, and many of them have to do with fighting over land and dwindling resources. A few years ago, I coauthored a scientific paper about this topic. The study, published in Conservation Biology, showed that over 80 percent of the world's major armed conflicts from 1950-2000 occurred in regions identified as the most biologically diverse and threatened places on Earth.

We also found that more than 90 percent of major armed conflicts – defined as those resulting in more than 1,000 deaths – occurred in countries that contain one of the 34 biodiversity hotspots, while 81 percent took place within specific hotspots. A total of 23 hotspots experienced warfare over the half-century studied. As it turns out, war amongst humans is often a clear consequence of our war on nature.

Susan Sontag wrote entire essays about the importance of having photographers on the frontlines of war so that society doesn't become numb to the pain of others. The same can be said about the war on biodiversity.

She warned us about the need to force ourselves not to look away. To look at the horror straight in the eye to make sure the suffering of others is not invisible.

I choose to focus on capturing vivid and beautiful images of nature rather than the harsh reality of biodiversity loss and climate change. This is a question that frequently arises in interviews or discussions with fellow conservation photographers. The truth is, my archives bear witness to the grave atrocities humans have committed against nature and wildlife.

The horrors I've captured with my camera are difficult to put into words. I fully grasp the reasons scientists and conscientious reporters sound the alarm about the state of our planet.

While the narrative of our planet's health is undeniably sobering, as we find ourselves amid a sixth mass extinction, facing challenges like industrial fishing, climate change, and ocean pollution, it's crucial to recognize that the doomsday messages don't tell the whole story. Despite our planet's hardships, there's still immense beauty within the natural world.

Every inch of life on Earth is evidence that our living world is resilient and fighting to thrive once more. My mission is to share that evidence through each image, urging others to join in the effort to protect it.

The ocean's tale is one of heartbreak, resilience, and triumph.

As a camerawoman, my role is to unveil that story, piece by piece, with the hope of inspiring lasting change for the health of our entire planet. I want to demonstrate that the heart of our ocean can flourish again.

By showcasing the breathtaking resilience of an ocean facing incredible odds, I aim to convey that even the smallest actions can drive powerful change. Our beloved Earth can still be restored as it strives daily to regain balance, eagerly seizing every opportunity for recovery. My images aim to illustrate how beautiful our world could be if we committed to restoring it to its former glory – proof that our planet has not given up, and neither should we.

My images aim to illustrate how beautiful our world could be if we committed to restoring it to its former glory – proof that our planet has not given up, and neither should we. If you find these images beautiful now, imagine the spectacular beauty Earth can exhibit when restored to its true abundance.

The potential for a thriving and restored planet is not only within reach but also a testament to our precious home's enduring strength and resilience.

I hope you find beauty in this world, even amidst the chaos that befalls us.


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