The human footprint on Earth seen from above

The human footprint on Earth seen from above




[Based on Feature Shoot]

A blue sphere, lost in the infinite Universe. A species ready to destory it and a photographer trying to save it.

Blue evaporation ponds are visible at the Intrepid Potash Mine in Moab, Utah, USA. The mine produces muriate of potash, a potassium-containing salt used widely by farmers in fertilizer. The salt is pumped to the surface from underground brines and dried in massive solar ponds that vibrantly extend across the landscape. As the water evaporates over the course of 300 days, the salts crystallize out. The water is dyed bright blue to reduce the amount of time it takes for the potash to crystallize; darker water absorbs more sunlight and heat.

Seen from the outside, Planet Earth is nothing but a blue grain lost in the vastness of the Universe, anchored to the Sun just by a gravitational spin and protected from a thin membrane of atmosphere. In the eighties, writer Frank White called it “The Overview Effect”: an almost all-consuming sense of reverence and responsibility that pierces the psyches of astronauts as they peer down at the round and floating gem that is our eternal home.

Valparaíso, Chile, is built upon dozen of hills facing the Pacific Ocean. Known as “The Jewel of the Pacific”, it’s the sixth largest city of the county and hosts about 285.000 residents. Valparaíso is also home to the country’s first public library, South America’s first volunteer fire department, and the world’s longest running Spanish language newspaper in continuous publication.

Artist Benjamin Grant took advantage of the media power of the Overview Effect by creating the “Daily Overview”, an Instagram account devoted to showcasing the Earth from above. He is not looking for the pictoresque wilderness, his aim is to show the more discomfiting visions.

New data from the Chinese government revealed that the country has been burning up to 17% more coal each year than previously disclosed, that means about 600 millions tons. This Overview shows the coal terminal at the Port of Qinhuangdao – the largest coal shipping facility in China. From here, approximately 210 million metric tons of coal are primarily transported to coal-burning power plants in the major cities in southern China each year. This figure is believed to account for approximately half of the country’s annual consumption.

Grant looks for all the ways in which we, as a species, have razed and severed the land and sea, partitioned and organized nature to feed our own avarice. Following this logic, shoots satellite images made by DigitalGlobe and that get used on Google Earth. Photographies that highlight without a speck of uncertainity the often brutal hand of mankind.

Los Caracoles Pass, or The Snails Pass, is a twisting mountain road located in a remote section of the Andes Mountains on the Chilean side of the border with Argentina. The path climbs to an elevation of 10,419 feet, has no roadside safety barriers, and is frequented by large trucks.

Capturing the places where humans damaged the Earth, Grant allows us to rise for a moment to the Gods’ role (for those who believe in them), occupying the empty expanse that surrounds this one precious globe.

The Grande Dixence Dam in the canton of Valais in Switzerland is the tallest gravity dam in the world with a height of  285 m. A gravity dam resists the horizontal thrust of the contained water, in this case the Dixence River, entirely by its own weight. The Grand Dixence took 14 years to construct, contains approximately six million cubic meters of concrete, and generates power for more than 400,000 Swiss homes.

We are no longer just inhabitants of our Planet, but its guardians, automatically nominated after bringing so much destruction. Indeed, the beauty and the poetry of Grant’s images does nothing to detract from their message; instead, their delicacy amplifies his invitation to take a step back, and notice our, apparently invulnerable world, for the delicate nucleus it truly is.

Cattle are visible at a feedlot in Summerfield, Texas, USA. Once the animals reach a weight of 650 pounds, they are moved to these facilities and placed on a strict diet of specialized animal feed. Over the next three to four months, the cows gain up to 400 more pounds before they are shipped off to slaughter. The lagoon seen at the top of this feedlot gets is glowing color from a high concentration of manure and chemicals.

All images are property of © Benjamin Grant

If you enjoyed this article, read also “New York City seen with a smartphone”

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/whoosnap/public_html/wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 399