Coastal sites threatened by sea rise
The Endangered Coast
Climate change is a fact and a predicament for mankind of great urgency that I feel compelled to address in my photographic work. My current project entitled “The Endangered Coast” is my response to this problem. My photographic approach is to document sites along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts that are so low in elevation that they have been or will be severely affected by storm surges and rising sea levels. Based on the most accurate scientific projections sea levels are predicted to rise about 5 feet in 100 years due to global warming. This amount of sea rise will inundate or make unsustainable large portions of the east coast, Florida and the gulf coast. I am photographing these areas of the coast as they are today, in their seemingly “normal” state as well as sites that have been affected by coastal storms such as Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and others.
Recently I photographed areas of New York and New Jersey impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This horrible storm has caused so much pain and loss while bringing into sharp relief the devastating effects of climate change. The current effects of storm surges on low lying coastal areas give us a glimpse into the future of a world in which these same areas will be continually under attack or completely destroyed as inexorably rising seas continue to intensify the storms, while eventually eliminating them. There is still time to stabilize the global climate if and only if the current “business as usual” patterns of human activity are changed. My photographs showing the endless and unsustainable development of barrier islands and other fragile costal environments underscore the absurdity of our current state of denial when it comes to sea-rise. I believe that realistically examining things as they are with my descriptive photographs is the best way to increase the awareness of my audience to the crisis we face.
My images are a personal response to the places I photograph. My work functions on multiple levels and I am constantly seeking the metaphors that will extend the viewer’s understanding from the specific situation photographed to a wider perspective. While the places I photograph may be depicted as ironically beautiful or optimistically reclaimed in the present, the reference to time as a context for the work contributes to the sense of a dystopian future for these coastal sites.
I began this new project in 2009 after previously devoting over two decades to photographing the effects of man’s interventions and excesses on the land with practices such as mining, logging and over-development This earlier body of work, was published as Consuming the American Landscape, in 2003 by Dewi Lewis Publishing. The new project, “The Endangered Coast” while still underway is now at a stage where I free confident that it is ready to be exhibited or published.