Photography that shows the effects of climate change
If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then the photographs shot by Fabiano Ventura when compared to those taken a century ago are worth more than all the many studies carried out to document the effects of climate change. Ventura heads the “On the Trail of the Glaciers” project, which has sent 6 expeditions to glacial masses across the globe over a 12-year period.
From Karakorum to Gran Sasso
The project began in 2009 on a rainy July morning in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital and the departure point for the Karakorum expedition, and continued until September 2020, when it explored the Calderone glacier in Gran Sasso, Europe’s southernmost glacial mass (following the disappearance of the Sierra Nevada in Spain) and the “home mountain” for Ventura, an environmental photographer from Rome. “It was on Gran Sasso that I first began mountain climbing and it’s the place where my passion for mountains and environmental photography developed. The project, which has taken me to mountains everywhere in the world, had to come full circle and return here.”
In each of the glacial areas, Ventura first had to find the exact point where the historical photographs had been taken in order to replicate them with exactly the same framing in order to compare the state of the glaciers. Before every expedition, he researched, catalogued and selected photographic material from some of the world’s most prestigious historical archives, including the Fondazione Sella in Biella and the Royal Geographic Society in London.
The technique of comparative photography is not new and is particularly appreciated for its great communicative power. After all, it’s something we are all familiar with from looking at old photos from our childhood, almost incredulous to see how different we were. Only in this case the changes are in the opposite direction: instead of growing, the glaciers have become increasingly smaller.
“Today these photographs have a bona fide scientific value, thanks to this project of comparative photography. This technique allows me to convey, very directly and without a shadow of doubt, the environmental issues and the effects of climate change in particular”
Fabiano Ventura, environmental photographer
A collective endeavour with the contribution of Enel Green Power
Obviously, a project of this scale could not have been carried out by one person alone: it has been a collective endeavour with Ventura as point person. The project was promoted by Macromicro, a non-profit association active in the environmental sector and organizer of events and projects to safeguard natural resources.
The organization set up a leadership group with communication and technical-creative departments in addition to a prestigious scientific committee of international experts from universities and research institutes. The six expeditions included the participation of geologists, glaciologists, meteorologists, photographers, directors, filmmakers, translators, mountain guides, Sherpas, high-altitude porters and cooks.
Naturally, the project was able to count on contributions from numerous sponsors. The main sponsor, Enel Green Power, believed in the project from the very beginning, as befits our Group’s heightened awareness of issues linked to climate change.