The work eventually came together in 170 color photographs in a folio format to chronicle the state of planet Earth. The work is both stunning and shocking. For every dramatically beautiful discovery, Arthus-Bertrand uncovered the planetary scars caused either ignorantly, inevitability, or intentionally by humankind.
In doing so, he permanently binds humans to the ecology that they are often quick to exploit. When he shows a picture of a fish market, he adds that one out of five people depend on fish but 77 percent of fish stock are over exploited. When he shows a striking photo from Africa, he points out that one billion people do not have enough to eat while 90 percent of America's corn feeds animals or is used for oil. In the rain forest, he discovered that deforestation claims 50,000 square miles every year.
"We don't want to believe what we know," he says in surprising solace.
This is part of the magic behind what he does. Discontent with showing the world through pretty pictures, he seeks to uncover the story behind the landscape. There is ecology and enterprise. There is humanity and poverty. There is environmental protection and encroachment.
There are his shots and an open invitation for other photographers to follow in his footsteps to track any progress in either direction. It makes him, and anyone who supports the work, among the most objective observers. While every moment he captures carries a message, someone else wrote it.
Among the most striking of his pictures are those that are stunning, but the underlying message is startling. A dramatic shot of Kilimanjaro for example points out that the glacier many people rely on for water is nearly gone. And it is in this way that twists the connection between the photographer and the subject and transforms it into a statement between two subjects.
Even more remarkable, perhaps, is that being the observer, artist, and messenger isn't enough. For Arthus-Bertrand is an active participant who makes every day Earth Day. His deep commitment to the environment and his willingness to get involved with the largest possible number of people in a shared-future project led him to create a unique foundation.
A few graphs about the foundation Arthus-Bertrand built.
The mission of the GoodPlanet Foundation is to raise awareness and educate the public about environmental protection. It encourages everyone to adopt a way of life that is more respectful of the Earth and its inhabitants. It offers realistic and optimistic solutions, and encourages each individual to take action in order to “bring ecology to the forefront of awareness.”
The foundation accomplishes this in a number of ways. For example, in ecologically fragile and diverse areas like Madagascar, it supported a programs that restored 23,000 hectares of fragmented forest and created an additional 470,000 hectares of protected areas. In Belgium, the foundation partnered with the Roi Baudouin Foundation to deliver educational poster kits and programs to schools in that country. In Haiti, the foundation partnered with Defi GNO and others to formalize classrooms made from bamboo.
The bamboo classrooms are not only used by schoolchildren, but are also a sustainability lesson in that bamboo is more energy efficient, renewable, and as durable as concrete. It also provides environmental benefits such as regeneration of unproductive lands, soil erosion mitigation, and farming protection.
There are dozens of these programs supported by the GoodPlanet Foundation all over the world. And at the heart of this effort is always the founder, a photographer who said being an observer isn't enough. He continues to press ahead with work today, finding new ways to inspire and engage people about the environment.
The GoodPlanet Foundation By Yann Arthus-Bertrand Is A Good Will Pick.
At least once a month, Liquid Hip highlights good will efforts undertaken by people with big hearts. We don't score them. That belongs to you.
We chose Arthus-Bertrand and his work, along with the GoodPlanet Foundation, because it blends awareness with sustainable action. One of the newest additions to Arthus-Bertrand's work is Home, a documentary that expands on the concept of Earth From Above by showing a stark contrast between the beauty and the beast that has become our planet.
If you would like to learn more, you can find Earth from Above, Third Edition on Amazon and visit the GoodPlanet Foundation. There you can find free posters and wallpapers or consider making a direct donation to the foundation. Some challenges, after all, are too big for one person to solve. But some solutions only need a few dedicated people to make a difference.