Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cheryl Woodcock Blogs on Antarctica

The most renowned Celebrated photographer Sebastian Copeland is one of the new breed of environmental activists. He is a natural story teller and he speaks with passion, painting each story with the colorful imagery found in his stunning photography.

He has a new book out called Antarctica: A Call To Action and is available now. GQ Germany has named the famed photographer one of 2008's Men of the Year for environmental leadership! He has also been shortlisted by the Prix Pictet for sustainability and photography. The winner will be announced on "Today" at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and presented by Kofi Annan. The winner gets 100,000 Euros!

I have followed Sebastian's work for years as this man is truly making a difference in the world and shedding light on so many issues that must be dealt with in regards to protecting our beautiful Mother earth. I suggest that everyone treat themselves to this delightful and earth-loving book. I can only hope that this visually and intellectually stunning book resonates with readers everywhere. His last book Antarctica: The Global Warning celebrated the majestic and mysterious wonder that is our precious planet and illuminated the delicate balance of life- this next book will do the same.

Sebastian's cousin, actor Orlando Bloom, wrote the following Foreword for the book:

My cousin asked me to take a trip with him to Antarctica in December 2006. It immediately appealed to me--the promise of the adventure, the wide-open seas. This would be the journey of a lifetime and would fulfill my longstanding dream of witnessing a seldom visited environment that is increasingly threatened by the way we live today. Although in reality it seemed a daunting idea, the opportunity was too good to miss.

My cousin's enthusiasm is always contagious. He's a true adventurer and a passionate believer that it is within our grasp to make a difference. For as long as I can remember, the environment has always been a great topic of conversation between us. With his knowledge and insight, I always felt as if I had a privileged view into what was really happening to the world around me, and so the opportunity to see it up close for myself was a gift.

I had seen the images from his first trip to the south in 2006 and was intrigued to find

No words, no conversation, nor photographs could have prepared me for this experience. We left Ushuaia, the world's southern-most seaport, on January 20th, 2007, for a three-day crossing to Antarctica. The Ice Lady Patagonia, a decommissioned 1950's Norwegian coastguard icebreaker, would be our home for the next month. With its Spartan accommodations, this was hardly a luxury cruise.

Moving through the Drake Passage is literally a rite of passage for anyone entering this precious land. It is also, as my cousin jokes, "What separates the men from the boys."

Three days on the open seas, crossing the most treacherous body of water on Earth, is enough to clear one's head of all the trappings of everyday life. We would have no communication whatsoever with the outside world until our return to port. And for me, that would be a gift.

It is impossible to put into words the feeling of my first sighting of an iceberg on the horizon. Like modern day dinosaurs, these towering blocks of ice are nine times greater below the surface and lay in tranquility, reminding me of a land hardly known and of a time long forgotten. But what struck me most was the deafening silence that would be interrupted only by the occasional screech of a gull, a penguin, or a breaching whale. This was a true natural wonderland, untouched by man. One can't help but feel humbled--and yet connected--when one truly understands our position in the natural order, that we are only one of 30 million species inhabiting this planet.

Life on the research icebreaker fell into a rhythm of shared tasks and responsibilities. But making landfall off the zodiac, scuba diving, or climbing an iceberg (only to snowboard down it) more than fulfilled any childhood dreams of adventure and voyaging the great outdoors.

Because I had never experienced an environment such as this, I had nothing to compare it to and it would not be honest of me to claim that I witnessed firsthand the changes taking place due to global warming. But what I did witness was a vibrant and powerful ecosystem which felt both majestic and incredibly fragile. To know that minute shifts in temperature, which have been stable for thousands of years, have such a huge impact on the balance of this place is an upsetting reality. The idea that the way we live our lives day to day has such an enormous impact on the natural cycle of the earth is a very hard concept to grasp. And yet the accelerated melting of the ice has consequences on our lives thousands of miles away, from our seasonal crop cycle to our basic water usage. These are truths upon which scientists around the world have unanimously agreed. A hurricane in London at the end of 2007, the water shortage in Atlanta, and the heat waves in New York in the fall of 2007 were all but a few signs pointing to a shift in the natural cycle that impacts our daily lives.

It is my hope that the images my cousin has captured so dramatically and with such commitment will incite people to learn more and to appreciate what is truly at stake.

We are all invited to escape within the pages of this beautiful book but, more importantly, this is a call to action for each of us, to learn to appreciate what we can do to protect and cherish our own backyard, this remarkable environment, Earth: our home. Thanks and respect to my cousin. Their movie is awesome.

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