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Communicating Climate Change

Annotated resources for teaching climate change from interdisciplinary perspectives. Contributions are welcomed by the sponsor, NSF EPSCoR, and initial contributors Dr. Y. Houy, UNLV Honors College, and Dr. P. Starkweather, UNLV School of Life Science.

Art and Sustainability

“Photography is a strong tool, a propaganda device, and a weapon for the defense of the environment... and therefore for the fostering of a healthy human race and even very likely for its survival.”  

This quote by nature photographer Eliot Porter, from his 1962 In Wildness is the Preservation of the World, summarizes photography’s potential for communicating climate change science and risk. This section highlights efforts by photographers and multi-media artists, often working in collaboration with scientists, to show the effects of climate change visually. Artistic expressions of climate change science and risks can complement other methods of communicating climate change (see “Communicating Climate Change” and “Visualization”).

Contextualizing brief captions, or more detailed explanations when appropriate, are useful, sometimes even crucial, in connecting images to climate change. Such captions/explanations benefit from thoughtful and strategic framing that communicate the urgency of climate change risks to different groups (see “Framing Public Discussions”).

Multi-media and collaborative projects (websites)

Cape Farewell brings together artists, scientists, and communicators from all over the world to produce art based on scientific research about climate change:

GHG Photos uses the scientific shorthand for greenhouse gases (GHG) in its title to highlight that this coalition of science, nature, and documentary photographers focus on picturing the causes and effects of anthropogenic climate change:

Facing Climate Change is a multi-media photographic project focused on showing the effects of global warming on local populations, and on documenting how communities are living with and responding to climate change:



Photography books (print)

Climate Change: Picturing the Science is co-edited by NASA climatologist and climate modeler Dr. Gavin Schmidt, and GHG photographer Joshua Wolfe. This interdisciplinary collaboration includes accessible information about climate change science as well as photo essays by GHG photographers to show climate change science and the effects of climate change. Schmidt, G. & Wolfe, J. (2009). Climate Change: Picturing the science. New York: W.W. Norton.

Steve Kazlowski’s wildlife photography documents the effects of climate change on arctic animals, most notably polar bears. His book The Last Polar Bear: Facing the truth of a warming world shows his photography under the extreme conditions of the Arctic, and is paired with essays about the biological and anthropological aspects of climate change on the Arctic from scientists and nature writers.
Kazlowski, S. (2008). The Last Polar Bear Facing the truth of a warming world. Seattle: Braided River.

Earth under fire: How global warming is changing the world, by photographer and activist blogger Gary Braasch, pairs photographs with an overview of the current facts surrounding global warming: Braasch, G. (2009). Earth under fire: How global warming is changing the world. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Photography activism (websites)

Cape Farewell collaborator and National Geographic photographer Robert van Waarden has several environmental photography projects, including one on climate change activism:

Award-winning Australian photographer Michael Hall devotes his work to “highlighting the impact of climate change and the damage we are all doing to our planet, and to showing how we are able to mitigate that damage by implementing carbon-neutral technologies”:

 Environmental activist Yann Arthus Bertrand uses photography and film to highlight the human impact on natural landscapes and animals. His aerial photography project “La Terre vue du Ciel—Earth from above” sold 3 million copies worldwide: h

“Photographic Documentation of Climate Change” is an ongoing photography blog by GHG photographer Gary Braasch: 


Glacier comparison photography (websites)

GHG photographer Gary Braasch and others have been using photographs taken decades apart to show how glaciers have been retreating over the past century. Gary Braasch’s classic comparison photographs are available on his blog:

The National Park Services uses comparison photographs to show how glaciers at Olympic National Parks have retreated over the past century as a result of warmer weather:

Photojournalism (websites)

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