Sunday, March 8, 2020

Edward Burtynsky, Colorado River Delta

Amazing photographs documenting how humans have transformed the region. Once the Colorado Delta was a vast and productive ecosystem made up of marshes, mudflats, and lagoons teeming with life. Then came the dams, and the irrigation projects, and now only a trickle of fresh water reaches the sea, supporting a comparative trickle of life. Colorado River Delta No. 1, 2011.

While trying to accommodate the growing needs of an expanding, and very thirsty civilization, we are reshaping the Earth in colossal ways. In this new and powerful role over the planet, we are also capable of engineering our own demise. We have to learn to think more long-term about the consequences of what we are doing, while we are doing it. My hope is that these pictures will stimulate a process of thinking about something essential to our survival; something we often take for granted—until it’s gone.
 Colorado River Delta #8

I wanted to understand water: what it is, and what it leaves behind when we're gone. I wanted to understand our use and misuse of it. I wanted to trace the evidence of global thirst and threatened sources. Water is part of a pattern I've watched unfold throughout my career. I document landscapes that, whether you think of them as beautiful or monstrous, or as some strange combination of the two, are clearly not vistas of an inexhaustible, sustainable world.
Colorado River Delta #2

Colorado River Delta #10, abandoned shrimp farms. More Burtynsky here, and at his web site.

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