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Pictures Showing California’s Climate Crisis
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Pictures Showing California’s Climate Crisis

Pictures Shwoing the Climate Crisis in California


2021 saw Northern California’s largest single-source wildfire; 5% of all giant sequoias diedThe wildfires that ravaged San Francisco over the past 2 years have caused it to die or become extinct. San Francisco continues seeing record-breaking amounts of rain and unusually warm weather. threatens the very existence of Karla The Fog.

Sullivan’s work documenting California’s shrinking water reservoirsThis year, Sullivan’s coverage of the destruction caused by the Caldor and Dixie fires was especially noteworthy. But Sullivan is a seasoned professional photographer. He knows his beats and has, through years photographing the region, become well acquainted with Northern California’s environmental cycles.

An aerial view shows the boat docks at Browns Ravine Cove, California, which sit on dry earth at Folsom Lake on May 10, 2021, El Dorado Hills, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency in 41 of California’s 58 counties, about 30 percent of the state’s population. Folsom Lake is currently at 38% of its normal capacity. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This year, however, was a different experience for the award-winning photographer. It was far more extreme — “the most severe” local examples of the climate crisis he’s captured, especially around the ongoing drought.

“We have wildfires and droughts, but this drought seems the most severe I’ve seen it,” Sullivan answers to Bold Italic Over the phone. “I honestly thought that we were going to be out of the drought. Or that there would at least some improvement over the past year.”

There hasn’t. Not even the recent Bay Area rainstorms — some of which drenched parts of the region with history-making amounts of rain — were enough to pull Northern California out of either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions.

‘There’s a lot of roadblocks in these communities because sometimes people in them don’t want this side of their stories told.’

In recent years, the art of capturing the climate crisis (in all its many aspects) has also improved. In fact: Sullivan’s most affecting images are often those taken some hundreds of feet above the ground.

A Trump 2020 flag is displayed in front of a Greenville, California, home that was destroyed by the Dixie Fire on September 24, 2021. Over a period of two months, the Dixie Fire has destroyed nearly 1,000,000 acres in five Northern California counties. This destructive fire has destroyed hundreds upon structures and is currently the second-largest in state history. It is currently at 94% containment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images).

“Aerial shots are incredibly important in documenting climate change,” he waxes. “They give a sense of scale that’s hard to convey on the ground.”

(I wholeheartedly agree with Sullivan’s sentiment on elevated shots. There’s a sense of cosmic oneness that comes from getting a bird’s-eye view of the world — the landscapes, the wildlife, both the synthetic detritus and organic splendor — around us. It’s impactful. If I were to ascribe to the notion of an ape-like god dictating life on earth, it’s slightly reassuring to understand what they might see when looking down on us rummaging around this celestial rock like uprooted fire ants.)

The Caldor Fire blazes through the area on September 1, 2021, near Strawberry, California. The Caldor Fire, which has burned over 190,000.00 acres and destroyed hundreds upon structures, is currently only 18% contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images).

This is why. drones have become an important tool over the past few years — “you can also have more control using them, whereas you can’t necessarily when flying in a helicopter surveying an area.”


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