“An image of the earth, its landscapes, directly affects people. The beauty of the earth creates enormous emotion, and through that emotion, you can transmit knowledge and raise consciousness.”
This quote spoke to me, which made me read up on Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s work and philosophy. He is known for, among other things, his book Earth from Above – aerial photos from landscapes around the world (more about that here). Yann Arthus-Bertrand is a photo-journalist, cinematographer as well as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations.
I decided to share a couple of our photos with you that exactly had that effect on me: that emotion where it felt as if my chest enlarged because it filled with air and energy. Standing in these places made me aware of my minuscular role in the universe and the extraordinary beauty of our planet that we need to preserve and treasure.
The quotes in between the photos are from an interview of the UN News Centre with Yanne Arthus-Bertrand on his commitment to the environment and not only his efforts to help save the planet but about other people/institution’s roles as well (I used bold lettering for emphasis).
1. On the role of politicians
“Today, politicians are completely dependent on public opinion. They have an electoral vision. There is no great leader able to make a great decision, because in democracy, voters make the politicians. To spark an awakening of consciousness, to make things change, you have to convince people that action is urgently required, more than politicians who are just hoping to please their constituents.”
2. On the role of the private sector
“Private companies are essential. Yes, we must work with them. You will not create a revolution by cutting off heads. We live in a democracy, everyone has the right to make its voice heard. The challenge is to convince people not to eliminate or ignore those they don’t like.”
“I believe that private
3. On the role of the developed countries
“There is a global fight to wage, and it starts in developed countries. It is we who must change our way of living.”
“We created the dream, we profited from the dream, we show other people the dream and now we tell them (the developing countries), “Sorry, not for you. The planet is in danger.” Impossible. That’s the problem.”
“So the question is: Are we people from developed countries able to change? Are we going to learn to share? I have no answer, but I think it will take a lot of openness and a lot of love. We need to accept having less for the other to have more, we need to have a little less, share a little more.”
4. On the role of us, as individuals
“A revolution – in attitudes. Not a political or economic revolution but a spiritual revolution, in the sense of ethics and morality, so people ask themselves: “Do I have the right to do this? Can I live my life without considering my impact on the environment, on the planet that I share with others?” These are the considerations we need to spark in everyone’s minds. It is probably naïve and utopian, but there is no other solution.”
And more specifically, on the role of journalists Yann Arthus-Bertrand said, “The world is moving so fast that it’s difficult to step back, to get perspective. To me that is the role of journalists, and not only journalists, to help get this perspective, to be able to touch people’s hearts. And to do this, to speak to people’s hearts, I believe in images: pictures, film, television, posters, Internet.”
5. On the role of all of us, working together
“It is not about the nice oil consumer and the wicked capitalist. The world does not work like that. When a taxi driver in Paris is shocked by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I ask him if he questions the origin of the oil he puts it in his car. Does it come from Myanmar, Darfur, Nigeria or the Gulf of Mexico? Stop complaining and delegating responsibility to others.
If we want oil companies to change, consumers have the power to impose the change. If all of us say, “I do not want oil because it is coming from this country, because it is fuelling corruption, destroying the environment in such a region,” the big companies will have to adapt.”
Ergo, on what is a top priority for the environment today, Yann Arthus-Bertrand answers, “That everybody becomes conscious of the reality, so we can be governed by people who are convinced, by leaders more than politicians, who personally believe in this fight and whose choices are not determined solely by the necessity of satisfying voters. The priority is simple: “stop the blah-blah and take action.”
On Earth Day, April 9, Noel Morata put together an impressive selection of national parks around the world that is worth a look as well.