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Welcome to the new IMPACT online exhibition, a project exploring the internet as a venue for insightful photographic work. In an effort to remind viewers of the important role photographers play around the world, we invited an array of imagemakers to share galleries on their blogs (like this one) that comprise images representing an experience when they had an impact on or were impacted. By clicking on the links below the IMPACT logo, you can move through the exhibition, viewing other galleries by different photographers. You can also click the IMPACT logo to be taken to a post on the liveBooks RESOLVE Blog where you can see an index of all participating photographers. We hope that by linking different photographic visions of our first topic, “Outside Looking In,” we can provide a multifaceted view of the topic as well as the IMPACT individuals can have on the world around us.
The IMPACT Team
Please find below my contribution to this exhibition: “Desertification Unseen”, a look at some of my lesser known desertification images and some that have not been released before, accompanied by text outlining the severity of this current crisis. – Sean Gallagher
“Desertification is one of the most serious threats facing humanity”– Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General. World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. 2006.
“The dryness affects our lives a lot. We call it the ‘black disaster’, which means there is no grass. On the grassland, we are afraid of this disaster”, says Zamusu, a farmer who has lived his entire life on the central grasslands of Inner Mongolia, in Northern China. These legendary grasslands are slowly deteriorating, suffering as a result of the world’s least reported environmental crisis.
Desertification is the gradual transformation of arable and/or habitable land into desert, usually caused by overpopulation, water mismanagement, poor farming methods, the destructive use of land by industry and climate change.
38% of the world’s surface area is now threatened by desertification, affecting countries across the world from North Africa, the countries of the Middle East, Australia, China and the western edge of South America.
“If we don’t take action, current trends suggest that by 2020 an estimated 60 million people could move from desertified areas of sub-Saharan Africa towards North Africa and Europe, and that worldwide, 135 million people could be placed at risk of being uprooted”, Kofi Annan (2006).
In 2007 I began photographing the issue of desertification and how it was affecting the lives of people in one of the world’s hardest hit countries, China. With the help of grants from the David Alan Harvey Fund for Emerging Photographers in 2008 and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in 2009, I have been able to document how the people of China are being affected by this crisis, which has consumed over 20% of their country.
To learn more about how you can help combat desertification, please visit the Million Tree Project which aims to reforest areas of Inner Mongolia being affected by desertification.