Winners of Environment – Stories | World Press Photo 2020
A photojournalistic photograph’s intent is to inform and educate, and eventually, fuel the commencement of necessary reparations. Since 1955, the World Press Photo Awards has been an instrumental force in this arena, by bringing harrowing stories of terror, as well as those of hope and resilience. These stories scream vociferously of the world’s apathy against its citizens, that we need to do better. The foundation has announced the winners of the contest on its online channels on the 16th of April. Here is a look at the photographs from the 63rd edition of the awards.
First prize: Luca Locatelli, Italy, for National Geographic
The End of Trash – Circular Economy Solutions: For centuries, industrialized countries have followed a take-make-waste linear economy: raw materials are gathered and transformed into products that are sold and then discarded as waste. Value is created in this economic system by producing and selling as many products as possible. The model not only drains natural resources, but also—in the demands it makes in energy consumption and because of a reliance on fossil fuels—exacerbates global heating. A circular economy offers an alternative by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. It is based on designing waste and pollution out of the system, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. Farmers, manufacturers and governments across the globe are taking steps to experiment with and implement a circular economy as part of their efforts to address the climate crisis.
Second prize: Maximilian Mann, Germany, DOCKS Collective
Fading Flamingos: Lake Urmia, in northwest Iran, once one of the largest salt lakes in the world, is drying up. In the 1990s, it was twice the size of Luxembourg, but intensified droughts and elevated summer temperatures have sped up evaporation. In addition, illegal wells together with a proliferation of dams and irrigation projects along the lake’s tributaries have diverted water to farm fields. Research by an international group of scientists conducted in 2014 showed that the lake had shrunk to about 12% of its size in the 1970s. In addition, environmentalists argue that a 15-kilometer-long causeway that cuts the lake in two, built in 2008, contributes to the drying as it inhibits water flow between the two sides. The exposed lakebed forms a vast salt desert that cannot support agriculture and is susceptible to salt storms which adversely affect surrounding agriculture, and cause eye, skin and lung disorders. Residents in the area, for whom the lake was once a leisure spot, are moving away. The desiccation also affects food sources for migratory birds such as flamingos, ducks and egrets. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has pledged US$5 billion over ten years to revive Urmia, and the United Nations Development Programme is working with farmers to introduce more sustainable working practices.
Third prize: Katie Orlinsky, United States, for National Geographic
The Carbon Threat: The Arctic permafrost is thawing at a faster rate than climatologists predicted, releasing carbon gases that could speed up global heating. Permafrost is carbon-rich frozen soil that covers 24% of the Northern Hemisphere land mass, encompassing vast stretches of territory across Alaska, Canada, Siberia and Greenland. It is a combination of soil, rocks and sand held together by ice and containing large amounts of organic carbon—frozen plant material that doesn’t decompose. As permafrost thaws, this material rots, releasing carbon dioxide and shorter-lived methane. Methane can be between 25 and 86 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, depending on the timeframe of measurement. The thaw impacts people living in the region—particularly indigenous communities following centuries-old lifestyles. Thawing permafrost undermines house foundations, makes the landscape more difficult to navigate and causes ice cellars (homemade freezers dug into the permafrost) to flood and provisions to spoil.Tags: Contemporary, Contest, dailylife, Environment, Environmental Issues, issues, News, Photo Essay, photojournalism, Photojournalists, Polar bear, Stories, Wildlife, winners, World Press Photo, World Press Photo Awards