‘Planet Earth stands on the cusp of disaster and people should no longer take it for granted that their children and grandchildren will survive in the environmentally degraded world of the 21st century.’ So said Britain’s Independent newspaper in reporting on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, released at the end of March.
As a father of three children, words like these strike terror into my heart. And so they should. Yet I know full well that the general election which will take place in Britain just after this issue is published will have seen environmental issues pushed to the very margins of political debate, as if they were of minimal concern beside the economy or the War on Terror. And I know that the same was true in the Australian and US elections at the end of last year.
It is hard to escape the sense that we are collectively fiddling while the whole planet burns. This issue of the NI tries to convey this message by strikingly different means – by gathering the work of some of the world’s greatest photographers to show the beauty of the planet we are in the process of destroying. The magazine contains just a selection of images from a major photographic book the NI will be publishing in September called Our Fragile World.
The scale and urgency of the environmental crisis becomes more apparent with every passing day – and it is up to all of us now to put it at the front and centre of political life.
Chris Brazier, for the New Internationalist Co-operative
LIFE - Egrets and tree frogs; migrant families and cityscapes: why the sixth and greatest extinction in the planet’s history is happening now.
AIR - From desert storms to plane travel and smokestacks, how the air we breathe may prove to be our downfall.
WATER - Bleached coral and beached ships; lost wetlands and sinking islands: the power of water over our health, our weather and our wars.
EARTH - From monoculture in Montana to the spreading Gobi desert in China, how our assault on the earth has eroded its thin skin of soil.
CHANGE - Recommendations for governments – and addresses of action groups that will keep them honest.