A Climate for Life


   A Climate for Life:  Meeting the Global    Challenge

   A collaboration of Conservation International (CI) and the
   International League of Conservation Photographers
   (ILCP), A Climate for Life is a dramatic visual chronicle of
   the impacts of climate change around the world.  The large
   format exhibit features a selection of 50 images from the
   book of the same title. The exhibit debuted at the California
   Academy of Sciences in January, 2009, and is now touring
   across the United States.





Christian Ziegler
Tropical forests

The forest floor of Barro Colorado Island in Panama provides a snapshot of the biodiversity of a tropical forest. Each year, some 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of tropical forest are destroyed, resulting in a serious loss of habitat for threatened plants and animals.


Frans Lanting
Die, adapt or migrate

Chinstrap penguins break the azure monochrome of on an iceberg in Antarctica. Warming polar waters may prove to be a severe threat as their natural habitats shift and they are unable to migrate.



Tui de Roy/Minden Pictures   
High altitude grasslands

Above 4,000 meters elevation, ichu grass and huamanpinta dominate the high Andean plateau as heavy weather rolls in to Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador. Preserving native grasslands protects the insects that pollinate agricultural crops and helps regulate local climates and rainfall.


Annie Griffiths Belt
Harvesting sunlight

Sunlight illuminates a stand of quaking aspens near Telluride, Colorado. Solar energy has the potential to provide more than three times the current annual global energy use.



Chris Linder   
Geothermal energy

This geothermal power plant in Iceland is able to provide most of the energy needs for the area it serves. Globally, geothermal's technical potential is more than ten times the current annual energy use on the planet.



Daniel Beltrá   
Amazon burning

Enormous fires are ignited every year to clear the rainforest jungle for soy bean plantations around Santarem in the Brazilian Amazon.




Pete Oxford
Healthy watersheds

Ecuador's San Rafael Falls (Coca Falls) tumble down the Quijos River in the Amazon basin. Although reforestation can be used to restore watersheds and reduce erosion, the additional benefits provided by an intact forest ecosystem, including healthy watersheds that provide water to communities and cities, can never be replaced.


Frans Lanting    
Clear-cutting for palm oil

An aerial view reveals the extent of deforestation for an oil palm plantation in Sabah, Borneo.    Many common cosmetics are made with palm oil grown in clear-cut forest.  The devastating effects of this industry on habitats for species like the orangutan are also harmful because of the enormous amount of forest carbon that deforestation releases into to atmosphere.

Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures
Forest ecosystems

A spectacled bear feeds on bromeliads (a member of the pineapple family) in the cloud forest of the Andes Mountains in South America. Cloud forests will be some of the first forest ecosystems to suffer the consequences of climate change.  As the weather becomes warmer and drier, changes will be amplified at higher elevations.


Tim Laman   
Tropical patterns

Rhinoceros hornbills perch in a tree high in the Dipterocarp rainforest of Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia. Animals that depend on seasonal fruiting trees are already being affected by changing climate patterns.



Daniel Beltrá

The Brazilian nut tree is now protected in Brazil. A few survivors of prior logging now stand alone in harvested soy fields and are doomed to eventual death. Massive deforestation taking place in forests like the Amazon contributes at least 20 percent of all carbon emissions every year to the atmosphere.


Daniel Beltrá   

Reforestation with non-native species has the potential to sequester carbon and prevent erosion, but it does not provide the many biodiversity benefits provided by intact forest ecosystems. It is also many times more expensive to reforest an area than it is to keep native forest standing.



Cristina Mittermeier   
Indigenous partners

The Kayapó Indians of the Brazilian Amazon have a rich ritual life. Here, the men prepare for a hunt, lead by chief Pukatiri. The Kayapó are stewards of a large tract of Amazonian rainforest.  They have chosen to conserve this forest, which otherwise could be logged or burned, keeping millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


Michael "Nick" Nichols   
Drying ecosystems

Three baby African elephants follow their mother across a river toward a drinking hole. Though these elephants are most at risk from poachers, the drying effects of climate change and continuing encroachment by human settlements both pose serious threats.


Paul Nicklen/NG Image Collection   
Arctic Food Chains

A pod of male narwhals gather to eat cod (Boreogadus saida) at the Arctic ice edge of Lancaster Sound in Nunavut, Canada. Many Arctic species, including narwhals, rely heavily on Arctic cod as their primary food source.  Warming ocean temperatures in the Arctic are causing the ice to disappear with disastrous consequences for Arctic species.


Luciano Candisani   
Tropical refugees

A muriqui monkey and baby traverse the Atlantic rain forest in Brazil. Predictions for climate changes for the next few decades envisage an increase in the duration and intensity of periods of drought in the Atlantic Forest. If this trend persists, the protection of such surviving areas of Brazil's Atlantic forest will become essential for the conservation of this ecosystem.


Frans Lanting   
Climate change extinction

Giant quiver trees struggle to survive in South Africa's Richtersveld National Park. Climate change is having a serious impact on desert ecosystems, regions where many people assume the affects should be minimal as they are already hot and dry.  Dryer conditions are rapidly reducing the range of the quiver tree and at the current trend the species will be extinct within the next 100 years.


Michael "Nick" Nichols, NG Image Collection   
Wildlife and War

With its habitat surrounded by a war zone and always threatened by poachers, a silverback western lowland gorilla strikes a pose in Odzala Park in the Republic of the Congo. Climate change is a serious added worry for species that are already under severe threat from hunting and habitat loss.


Vincent Munier   
Regulation of Global Climate

A male snowy owl stretches his wings and flares his talons in pursuit of a mouse under the snow in Canada. The Arctic plays a major role in regulating global climate, and evidence suggests that climate changes are already impacting natural environments there. Large fluctuations in wildlife populations, thinning sea ice over once-stable areas, rising lake temperatures, thawing permafrost and regional warming are a few of the recent signs of change.


Frans Lanting   
Living Wetlands

Water lilies mottle the surface of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. They represent one of the oldest evolutionary branches of flowering plants. The Okavango Delta  is the world's second largest inland wetland region. The delta is maintained by annual pulse flooding of the Okavango River. The Okavango and other wetlands around the world will surely be affected by changing climate patterns and by growing human demands for a finite resource.


Luciano Candisani   
Freshwater Habitats

Pirapitanga fish school together in a clear-water stream in the Cerrado region of Brazil.The Cerrado, or Brazilian savanna, represents 23 percent of the land surface of the country. This important biome, however, has been subjected to rapid rates of land conversion to agriculture and pasture. This has important environmental consequences to local and regional climate change.


imageJoel Sartore   
Fishery Collapse

A female sockeye salmon guards her nest in the Kennedy River on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. As river temperatures increase, these cold-water fish could soon find themselves fighting for survival.  Many once-healthy salmon runs in Canada and the United States have collapsed due to habitat destruction and over fishing, and the remaining runs are now challenged by raising temperatures. Implications for the economy and local communities have been devastating.


imageMichael Forsberg   
American Potholes

Potholes permeate the agricultural landscape in central North Dakota. The region is covered with thousands of shallow, sometimes-seasonal ponds known as potholes or sloughs, which were created when continental glaciers retreated more than 10,000 years ago. The area is the summer home and breeding grounds of some 45 million mallard, pintail, gadwall, and teal ducks as well as many other birds, and is popular with hunters and bird watchers. Climate change will be devastating to the ecological systems that support waterfowl.


imagePaul Nicklen/NG Image Collection   
Freshwater Habitats

In search of wild salmon, this fisherman casts into the healthy waters of the Hvita River in Iceland.  Healthy freshwater habitats provide livelihoods to local people, conserve important resources and keep a steady freshwater supply.



imageBrian Skerry   
Red pigfish and Blue mao-mao

The Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve, east of New Zealand's North Island, is a place where we can still celebrate the abundance of healthy marine ecosystems. The creation of reserves here has revealed how resilient the ocean can be if given time.


imageMichael Aw   
Pristine Seas

Baitfish form a ball near the islands of Raja Ampat. Powerful currents protect the area from ocean warming elsewhere in the region, making these marine habitats some of the most resilient in the Coral Triangle.



imageDavid Doubilet   
Ocean Currents

The oceans are home to a complex network of interlinked currents that move huge amounts of water and heat around the globe, but there is now evidence that climate change may be affecting ocean circulation with as-yet-unknown consequences.



imagePaul Nicklen/NG Image Collection   
Marine Protected Areas

Fairy basslet fish dart among blooms of lettuce coral in the Phoenix Islands. Coral reefs like this one have emerged as one of the ecosystems most vulnerable to climate variation and change. Today, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area is the largest marine protected area in the world, and showcases the importance of connecting marine reserves into large networks that make marine species and ecosystems more resistant to climate change, overfishing and pollution.


imageBrian Skerry   
Mangrove Nurseries

A Lemon shark pup takes refuge in a mangrove nursery in Bimini, Bahamas. Mangroves provide critical habitat for countless species and serve as nurseries for fish. They also help shield the shoreline from storm surges.



imageTim Laman/NG Image Collection    Healthy mangroves

Mangrove roots provide shelter for many fish species, like this starfish in Tunicate Cove in Belize. They also benefit human populations by buffering fluctuating sea levels. Rising sea levels linked to global warming threaten economically, ecologically and culturally important mangrove forests around the globe.


imageAnnie Griffiths Belt   

Residents could only watch as damaging winds from Hurricane Allen reached more than 160 kilometers per hour in Corpus Christi, Texas. Scientists predict that climate change will result in a higher frequency of hurricanes with greater intensity.

imageAnnie Griffiths Belt   
Climate Refugees

Refugees from Myanmar wait for a delivery of fish meal at a camp on the border with Thailand. One of the most serious side effects of climate change is the displacement of people who are forced to migrate to survive.  The poorest among the poor will be the first ones to feel the effects of climate change as they are the least buffered from its effects.


imageSteve Winter   
Preparing for Extreme Weather

Fog surrounds loaf-shaped mountains at sunrise in the Valle de Vinales in Cuba. Like most Caribbean nations, Cuba is hit by several violent storms each season. To protect itself from the ocean, Cuba has one of the best hurricane-preparedness systems in the world.



imagePaul Nicklen NG Image Collection   
Polar Trouble

Its image mirrored in icy water, a polar bear swims submerged in Lancaster Sound in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The continuous loss of the sea-ice platform on which polar bears forage has led to shorter hunting seasons, which increasingly threatens their survival.



imageNorbert Rosing   
Walrus and Calf

A mother walrus and calf (obscured by shadow) float on an ice floe in the Foxe Basin of the central Canadian Arctic on a summer's midnight. Walrus populations, like those of many other Arctic species, are on a downward slide, as the polar ice sheet on which the mammals depend for every stage of life thins and retreats.


imageVincent Munier   
Peat Bog Carbon

Frost covers a peat bog landscape on a winter morning in the Vosges Mountains of France. Peat bogs are a vast natural reservoir of organic carbon. By one estimate, the bogs of Europe, Siberia and North America hold the equivalent of 70 years of global industrial emissions.



imageMichael "Nick" Nichols, NG Image Collection   
Wildlife and War

With its habitat surrounded by a war zone and always threatened by poachers, a silverback western lowland gorilla strikes a pose in Odzala Park in the Republic of the Congo. Climate change is a serious added worry for species that are already under severe threat from hunting and habitat loss.


imageMichele Westmorland   
Sea Turtles

Climate change is projected to increase marine species' extinction rates. Sea turtles already face serious threats from poaching and pollution and now they also have to contend with climate change.  Sea turtles lay their eggs in beach sand, and many species return to the exact beaches that they were hatched to lay the eggs for the next generation. However, sea level rise threatens beach habitat and turtle reproduction will be severely impacted as nesting sites are covered in water.


imageBoyd Norton
Colorado Thunderstorm

A large and ominous thunderstorm forms over the Front Range of Colorado at sunset. Despite the beauty of this scene, it could be an indicator of climate change. Shifts in our atmosphere affect weather systems around the world, and many scientists project increased frequency and severity of storms.





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