Turkish Photographers Capture Climate Change

A flower struggles for life amid one of Istanbul's most crowded urban areas. (First-prize winner, 'free' category.)

Flood waters lap up over homes' doorsteps. Beached boats languish on dried-up shorelines. Fires rage, power plants belch smoke into the air, and cities spread unchecked across the landscape. Amidst it all, life continues: Fishermen catch what they can, shepherds take their flocks out to graze on sparse hills, flowers grow up through the cracks in city streets.

This is the face of climate change in Turkey, as captured by professional and amateur photographers for a competition organized by the British Council as part of its global climate change program. In 2009, the group recruited 14 Climate Advocates in Turkey, "from different walks of life, [but all] very enthusiastic to contribute to make change in environmental behavior toward low-carbon economy," according to science projects coordinator Esra Saruhan.

Turkey's 'Tuz Gölü' (Salt Lake) is turning into a 'Tuz Çölü' (Salt Desert) due to lack of rainfall. (Second-prize winner, 'free' category.)

Ranging in age from 21 to 34, and including artists, students, engineers, and businesspeople, the youthful team created the "Capture Climate Change" photo contest as one of its key educational projects in Turkey.

The Climate Advocates wanted to prompt people to "wear 'climate glasses' while looking around their environment and capturing the changes," Saruhan told TreeHugger.com recently in an email interview. "[They wanted to] demonstrate [to the] public the effects of climate change and create willingness among people to act."

This aqueduct on the outskirts of Istanbul provided water to the city starting in the mid-1500s. Due to poor planning, the reservoir it tapped has dried up. (Third-prize winner, 'free' category.)

Twenty-six photos , including three winning images each in the "free" and "digitally manipulated" categories, were selected by a jury out of nearly 600 competition entries and are now touring the country until March 2012. The traveling exhibit is often accompanied by public forums where university students and members of the general public can discuss global warming with various experts from academia, NGOs, and the media.

Organizers hope the photos will show that "climate change [is] not distant in some far-away land," Saruhan said. "[It is] in fact right where we live."

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Turkish Photographers Capture Climate Change
Traveling exhibit in Turkey prompts audiences to put on their 'climate glasses' and see how floods, fires, and drought in the country are all connected.

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