This was once the village of Geamana in the Apuseni Mountains in Romania:
The picture was taken by Glyn Thomas, one of 111 finalists in the Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition.
The aim of the annual awards is to demonstrate “the dynamic link between environmental and social issues in a way that makes us think differently about the world around us”.
In the case above, up to 400 families were forced to leave Geamana in 1978 as their homes were sacrificed so the entire basin could be flooded with toxic waste from a huge copper mine. That’s the church steeple you can see in the picture, buried by tailings from the mine.
The colourful swirls that surround the steeple when the groundwater rises are a favourite snap for tourists, even though it’s pure pollution.
But with debate firing up about another cyanide-based mine opening nearby, Glyn Thomas’s shot is a stunning reminder of the long-term environmental price we pay for looting the Earth’s resources.
Here’s a selection of more of the thought-provoking images. From June 22, the shortlisted works of outstanding photographic art will go on show at the Royal Geographical Society in London for 18 days. The winners will be announced on June 25.
Retrace our Steps – Fukushima, Japan
Photographers Carlos Ayesta and Guillaume Bression asked former residents and owners from Japan’s Fukushima prefecture to join them for a shoot in their old homes and businesses. Here, Midori Ito wanders a supermarket in Namie Citie abandoned after the 2011 earthquake disaster. The idea behind the shoot was “to combine the banal and unusual”.
Sandstorm in the city – Kuwait
When a severe sandstorm swallowed parts of Kuwait on March 25, 2011, photographer Rizalde Cayanan was there for this epic shot. Kuwait’s International Airport was shut down and some areas reported nil visibility.
Glacier 1987 – Mount Kenya
Simon Norfolk took this picture of Lewis Glacier, Mount Kenya, to show how far the glacier had receded since the same time in 1987. The flame line, fueled by petrol, was added to show the 120m distance between the glacier in 1987 and now.
Norfolk also wants people to know his images contain no evidence that man-made warming is responsible for the retreat. (He’s just sayin’.)
Collecting crabs – Satkhira, Bangladesh
In 2009, Aila, a severe cyclonic storm, hit the west coast of Bengal. The storm surge pushed the ocean 2-3 metres above tide levels. This man owned a huge area of arable farming land. Now he can only collect crabs from it to sell at market, due to the high salinity of the soil and water caused by the surge.
The Devil’s Gold, Indonesia
Sulphur. You might also know it as fertiliser, skin lotion, wine preservative or the stuff that makes paper white. In Indonesia, it’s known as “the Devil’s gold”, and it’s extracted by hand from inside volcanoes, where workers need special suits to survive the toxic fumes.
Cladonia Forest – USA
Matthew Cicanese wants people to not forget about the little things. As in, the microscopic things you grind under your feet, and cars, and housing developments. He reckons miniscule lifeforms, with their intricate organisms and micro biodiversity, such as this Cladonia lichen forest, deserve recognition, and care.
Life in Tidal Flood 3 – Chittagong, Bangladesh
What sea level rise? This one which sees Jashim Salam and his family in Chittagong, Bangladesh watching their telly and not even bothering to keep dry any more as the tide comes in. A 65cm sea level rise by 2080 would destroy 40% of southern Bangladesh’s arable land, and create 20 million “climate refugees”.
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