Photographer Caroline Bennett: The Amazon is Changing

Photographer Caroline Bennett: The Amazon is Changing

To see how photographers are documenting climate change around the world, watch our video Climate Change Is Real.  

Based between Colorado and the Amazon region of South America, Caroline Bennett is a documentary photographer, storyteller and creative strategist working to shake the world awake in the Amazon and beyond. Or in her words, “a photo activist.”

She is also a core contributor to Everyday Climate Change, a collective of world class photographers working across all seven continents to tell the story of the effects of and solutions to climate change via social media and live opportunities.

Earth’s Last Wilds: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change © Caroline Bennett

For years, Caroline has dedicated herself to a long-term collaborative project called Earth’s Last Wilds: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change. This project captures stories from the Amazon Rainforest — one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and one that is critical for regulating our global weather systems.

“The area is said to be off-limits to any extractive operations,” says Caroline, “but it’s flanked on every side by oil blocks. And it doesn’t help that developers have carried out their own surveys announcing billions of dollars of oil under the jungle floor.”

Earth’s Last Wilds: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change © Caroline Bennett

Many of Caroline’s images are from an eclipsed region of the Ecuadorian Amazon that holds more indigenous knowledge than perhaps any place on earth. The images from Earth’s Last Wilds seek to explore, capture, and bring back these connections and perspectives to global conversations.

“The scientific and academic communities have made significant advances in understanding the behavior and dynamics of Earth’s systems,” she says. “But a very important voice has largely been missing from the conversation. Just think about what Western science could learn from indigenous knowledge and practices.”

Earth’s Last Wilds: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change © Caroline Bennett

Caroline explains that the people who live there, while they may not be calling it “climate change,” have been documenting its impact for years, observing its effects on the natural environment that sustains their very existence. “I’ve heard countless stories of drastically changing weather patterns,” she says.

“Temperatures are rising, fires burn more intensely, rivers flood unpredictably, and rain doesn’t fall when it used to.”

Today, Caroline is on a mission to extract invaluable knowledge and ancient wisdom that could be critical in addressing the challenge of climate change. “We must use photography and visual storytelling to translate our findings so that the public and decision makers can really understand what’s going on,” she says. “As photographers, it’s our moral responsibility.”

Earth’s Last Wilds: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change © Caroline Bennett

“As a storyteller, it’s an honor to do this work,” she says. “I’ve made it my life’s mission to translate the world’s’ knowledge into visual stories as we seek to understand the mounting threats to the planet that we share. After all, we’re all deeply connected.”

Earth’s Last Wilds: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change © Caroline Bennett

Caroline knows there’s no guarantee that people will act if they’re aware of these issues, but they certainly won’t do anything if they don’t understand what’s going on. That’s why the role of photographers has never been more critical.

“It is so important to capture and show these stories now, as these places, Earth’s last wild frontiers, may never be the same again,” she says. “And the indigenous people who live in the Amazon know this. They know what’s at stake.”

“The earth’s climate is changing in a way that has profound global impacts on its land, waters, and people,” Caroline adds. “Our success and ability to be resilient as a species depends on how well we understand, predict, and adapt to a fundamentally different planet from the one we’ve inhabited.”

Follow Caroline’s work on Instagram and also on Everyday Climate Change.

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What changes do you see? Email climatechange@photoshelter.com with your photo and the story behind it. We’ll choose several stories to share (and do so only with your permission).

*We strongly support your rights as a photographer. We will not use your images without your permission, and we claim no commercial rights to them.

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