High and Dry: A Human Face of Climate Change

Photograph by Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer

High and Dry: A Human Face of Climate Change

Peruvians living high up in the Andes may not know the phrase, "climate change," but they're worried about its effects.

Photo by Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer/Text by Julie Leibach
Published: March-April 2012

Juliana Pacco Pacco can't read or write. She has no television. For transportation, she uses a llama. Home is on a mountain thousands of feet high in the Peruvian Andes. Pacco Pacco has never heard of "climate change"--yet she can describe a few of its symptoms. "It rains and snows at unexpected times," she told photographers Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer, through a translator. "The animals don't have much fodder to eat and are more prone to illness." Temperatures are in fact rising in Peru's mountains and precipitation patterns changing. Farmers have moved their potato fields to higher, cooler areas to escape heat-related diseases. Now they have reached rock, with no recourse.

Pacco Pacco is just one voice, and visage, out of many appearing in The Human Face of Climate Change (Hatje Cantz Verlag), Braschler's and Fischer's most recent portrait project. Its international subjects worry about the effects, current and potential, of global warming--a hunter in Mali endures drought, for example, while a teenager in Kiribati fears inundation. 

The photographer team's idea grew out of a project done in China. "We saw what industrialization can do to nature," says Fischer. They researched extensively and worked with scientists, nonprofit groups, and locals to understand climate change and arrange to meet people affected by it. "We wanted to show [each person] with dignity," says Fischer. Ironically, an Alaskan Inuit suggested to the photographers that city dwellers used to modern conveniences could have the hardest time adapting in the future--shaping a lifestyle around nature's offerings is hardly routine. True or not, says Fischer, "Everybody has a next generation to think of."

SPECIFICATIONS

Photographers: Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer

Camera: Hasselblad 503CW

Lens: 80mm

Exposure: f11.5 at 1/125; Profoto B2 flash system

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Author Profile

Julie Leibach

Julie Leibach is managing editor of ScienceFriday.com and a former Audubon senior editor. Follow her on Twitter: @JulieLeibach

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine

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