Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Paris Bound for Cop 21

Finding cautious optimism, synergistic momentum and the interconnectedness of many things moving toward my departure to the United Nations Cop21 conference on climate in Paris, now just a few days away...

It will be interesting to see how civil society and governments blend there and find their voices at the event. And even more interesting to see if the bottom to top approach from the global citizenry will take hold in the wake of the talks... And if the necessary synergy and a binding agreement can be reached - and in what capacity.

In the last couple decades I have witnessed changing environmental conditions as a dedicated climber, trekker, wilderness guide and adventure travel photographer and writer.  Glacial ice in New Zealand, Alaska, Argentina, Chile, Peru and the US is clearly shrinking - and temperatures have been steadily climbing in Australia, the Southwestern US, Pacific Northwest - I have noticed monsoon patterns change in Arizona and Colorado, storms become more violent - and now the driest month in more than a quarter century has provided my intro to Copenhagen life. Acidification and heating of oceans, rains coming at different times and plants not being able to adapt, animal and plant populations with narrow windows of temperature adaptability being threatened and looking at extinction, loss of snowpack in the Sierra and the Rockies and exacerbated water issues in the West...

Now in Scandinavia I am constantly aware via local news of the reality of amplified immigration/refugee challenges and nascently swelling populations of effectively borderless Europe. Enhanced turmoil and pressure toward more insulation and less movement toward embracing the larger human community. I think the danger of nationalism is that it can push us further into the us against them mentality and closer to dehumanization... The recent terror attacks and the culture of fear being thrust forward in mass media seems to be enhancing an islamaphobic mentality in cultures already quite ignorant of Islam in general. Seems to be less desire to understand issues and cultures, more knee-jerk reactions and less diplomacy.

With climate change challenges multiplying the number of refugees perhaps even exponentially, jumping arbitrary borders will inevitably become much more commonplace. It intrigues me that as of yet there is still no acceptable legal status for climate refugees - technically they do not exist in the language applied by countries and it apparently was struck last month from the some 50 page draft within the hopefully to be realized COP21 accord.

As I attempt to research climate challenges and the anthropogenic effects - droughts, floods and fresh water and food growing challenges, I find it closely intertwined with the dominant oil and gas infrastructure and it appears that the current wars, migration, terrorists attacks seem to all have solid roots anchored in the global reality of climate change..  Cautious optimism via scientific recommendation to divest as quickly as possible from oil and gas and embrace and build infrastructure renewables/green energy - we know what to do and we have to tools to do it - but the effort required and the necessity to work as a global community in a splintering world seems tricky...

There is a lot riding on this COP in particular... I really hope for some serious communication from indigenous, the global citizenry at large - and that this can drive the continued successes to be realized from a binding and international agreement and the shared voice of a planet and countries in distress...

Here are a few images of some of the more beautiful (and now threatened) places I have ever traveled. All images ©Bennett Barthelemy/Tandem Stills and Motion
Melting glacial ice in Lago Grey, Torres Del Paine National Park Chile.

A calving glacier in the Fitzroy Range, Argentina.

Guding a client on a Colorado Rockies Fourteener

Pacific Northwest kayaker Brenden Wells on the Little White Salmon River

Flowering plants in spring in a very remote part of Grand Canyon National Park.
Guiding a remote trail off of the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park

Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park

A woman in Peru's Cordillera

Calving Perito Moreno Glacier in southern Argentina

Trekking over a 15,000 pass in Peru

Sea life on a small deserted island south of Loreto, Baja Sur Mexico

Forced begging in Dakar Senegal is a reality for  50,000 youth every day where over half the population is said to live in extreme poverty.

Education and schooling is a luxury that many families in Dakar believe they cannot afford so many children work 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bicycles and Climate: A Photo Essay

Copenhagen has a reputation of being perhaps the most bicycle friendly city in the world.

As we roll forward into a super-heated world, as COP21 looms ahead and the chance at an international agreement to better realize divesting ourselves globally of the fossil fuels, I quite enjoy surrounding myself with bicycles and not driving a car anymore.
Rain, nightfall, rush hour, being dressed up or even wearing a dress... Rarely seems to slow the steady flow of bicycles.
Bicycles are a ubiquitous part of society here with an infrastructure that promotes bicycle safety and their use with wide dedicated lanes. When going to an event it will list where the nearest car parking and bicycle parking is located.
I am told that to buy a car in Denmark you must be prepared to roughly pay 200 percent tax on it.
At a meeting in Copehangen a few days ago hosted by the French Embassy in Copenhagen, the European Parliament's Office, Nyt Europa to help educate French Citizens living in Denmark on the issues that will be raised at the climate talks at COP21 it was stressed that the actions will largely come from the bottom upward. "You cannot come to the COP without first changing in your own home." Martin Lidegaard - Former Minister of Climate, Energy and Building for Denmark
"66 percent of citizens globally view that adapting policy for climate change will improve their quality of life." Bjørn Bedsted - Head of Danish Board of Technology International
"No climate models look good. Action is urgent - If we decide not to do anything for 25 years it will be too late. It is technologically feasible and economically viable." Dr. Jean Jouzel - IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
I am excited to have the opportunity to go to the climate talks in Paris next month... 

All images ©Bennett Barthelemy 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hearing Old Whispers in Copenhagen

A bit of sun yesterday in Copenhagen so spent some time enjoying the little details often hidden from the passing eye... Towers, imposing statues placed 30 meters above the street, building corners and archways speak to another world, another time when these flourishes and accoutrements meant something and were better appreciated. There are a lot of stories hiding here still in houses built in the 1600s, carvings from the 1890s, stories of architects and engineers and long silent visionaries whispering again. Nice to be in a place with such an intact, physical history.

The Borson building that houses the Stock Exchange, built in 1640 the tower has four intertwined dragons.

A statue high above the street on the Marble Church (Frederik's Church)

The largest church dome in Scandinavia, plans drawn up in the early 1700s, finally completed in the 1890s.

Rooftop statue at Amalienborg.

Roof at Amalienborg
all images ©Bennett Barthelemy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chasing Light in the Land of Little Sun

Jumping continents for travel can build a sense of comfort that you have something known well to return to. When a relocation happens for extended anchoring there is a bit of emotional upheaval that needs to be attended to...

My level of comfort often expands when I have my camera in hand. I use this tool, this curiously shaped hammer and chisel to expand my reality. It becomes my personal  psychologist as well. My camera when used with attention, can capture a bit of light and a bit of knowledge and translate it very eloquently.

I noticed the calming effect of held camera in challenging circumstances first when technical climbing, or engaging a geography that was potentially hostile. The unsettled feeling of launching into the unknown is healthy and needed for continued growth, to spur, but is often scary and requires readjustment through refocusing - Creating images helps soften any fear, and even helps to welcome the unknown - gently reshaping my myopic and astigmatized convexed cornea of ideas and perceptions...

There is a level of perceived fear of the unknown that can easily overwhelm in new situations. When the camera comes out it is simpler to objectively analyze situations, actively observe yet create and keep a bit of safe distance. Reviewing the images helps to inform and inspire a plan to re-engage - much like building a shot list and researching before a engaging a photo essay...

Here a few images that have helped with this Scandinavian translation...