The World Meteorological Organization monitoring of climate change recently reported indicators at record levels, and they continue to rise: greenhouse gases, sea level, ocean heat content and ocean acidification.
As a wide range of substances are water-soluble, water is particularly vulnerable to pollution. Toxic run-off from farms, urban areas and factories flows down to lower-lying water, ultimately making the oceans more acidic. Heavy metal pollution has been reported in fish, and in some countries, in rural areas where standpipes are the only source of drinking water, more than 200 million people are exposed to arsenic-contaminated water.
Scientists hypothesize that ice currently trapped in glaciers and land in the Arctic and Antarctic will melt, and if their fears are proven right, sea levels will rise to the point of inundating cities and entire countries such as the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and the Seychelles.
With the continents surrounded by water, some may believe that water is available in abundance, but this is not so as the ratio of salt water to fresh water is 50:1. Drought is affecting the world, and urban populations will be amongst the hardest-hit as aquifers supplying some of the most populated cities in the world, for example Beijing, Mexico City, Lima, Buenos Aires and Dhaka, will be depleted. The logical outcome is war being waged over water, and such conflicts have already occurred.
As governments tend to react to disasters rather than prepare for them, the cost, in monetary terms alone, is immense.
Magnum photojournalist Ian Berry, being aware of dire predictions of global warming, responded by producing a documentary record of human neglect and greed in the use of the world’s natural resources. Looking at Ian Berry’s photographs, plus statistics and reports on the consequences of human actions and inaction, it is abundantly clear that we must act now to take care of the planet Earth, for it is the only world we have.