I just saw this and felt I had to share it. The photos were taken by Chris Jordan as part of his series "Midway: Message from the Gyre." The series can be seen in its entirety here. For further beautiful and disturbing art with a message on consumerism check out http://chrisjordan.com.
This photograph and the others in the series were taken on the Midway Atoll, an island in the Pacific Ocean some 2000 miles from any continent. They depict the corpses of albatross, bodies filled with plastic. The birds soar over the polluted ocean, mistake our trash for food, and take it back to feed themselves and their young. Tens of thousands of albatross die every year from starvation, poisoning, and choking.
Look at these photos, if you can bear to. How many items do you recognize? Bottle caps, lighters, toys, ink pens... How many have you thrown away in your lifetime? Hell, how many of them have you thrown away this week? Most of these items are collected in what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Patch is a floating mass of garbage estimated to be twice the size of Texas and containing 3.5 million tons of garbage. Let's get the decimals and units and comparisons out of the way. That's about 537,640 square miles and 7 billion pounds of trash. It would be visible from space but for the fact that most of the pieces are microscopic and/or under water.
It's not about some dead birds. It's not even about a hell of a lot of dead birds. It's about looking at the consequences of our society. About what happens after we throw something away and never think about it again. Right now there's enough trash in the ocean to give a pound of garbage to every single person in the world and still have some left over. Just because it's anonymous and far away and caused by billions of people doesn't mean nobody is to blame. It means everybody is to blame.
I'm not going to preach. I'm not going to express outrage. I'm not even going to link you to some fine non-profit organizations and handy lists of advice. I'm giving you more credit than that. You're either moved by these pictures or you're not. You'll want to find out more or you won't. You know change comes not from looking a website, but by actively learning information, sharing it, and applying it to your life... right?
Lastly, a quote from Chris Jordan himself, from his website:
As an American consumer myself, I am in no position to finger wag; but I do know that when we reflect on a difficult question in the absence of an answer, our attention can turn inward, and in that space may exist the possibility of some evolution of thought or action. So my hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry. It may not be the most comfortable terrain, but I have heard it said that in risking self-awareness, at least we know that we are awake.