Do “Antarctica Warming” photographs successfully raise awareness of Global Warming?

When talking about global warming, there are many controversies due to peoples inability to understand or accept the concepts associated with it.

This National Geographic photographic series, (  illustrates the effects of global warming in Antartica.  In my opinion, these visuals can provide the viewer with clearer ideas on what will happen to the wildlife and habitats in this location, however, do you think these mesmerizing images successfully raise awareness of the issues Antartica is facing?  Do you think using beautiful landscape and “cute” animal photographs are effective?

Also, the descriptions below the photographs attempt to give us a context for the image. I question the success in communicating the correct message that Global Warming is real, and needs to be taken seriously. For example, “A group of gentoo penguins nests on an icy shore of Cierva Cove, Antarctica. The continent is home to a number of penguin species, including Adélie, chinstrap, emperor, gentoo, and rockhopper,” provides the viewers with little information on what will happen to the penguins in relation to global warming.  Is there a better way of writing that?


About Nikki Horowitz

Nikki Horowitz, a native New Yorker, is currently a senior BFA Interarts Performance major at the University of Michigan, enrolled in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance and the Penny Stamps School of Art & Design. She is an inspiring creative artist, focused on photography, videography, art directing, directing, producting, journalism and film/theatre production.

8 Responses to “Do “Antarctica Warming” photographs successfully raise awareness of Global Warming?”

  1. I actually do think that providing people with images regarding an issue could be more effective than just talking about what can happen with words.

    Images can definitely provoke a more emotive response from the person viewing them, but I also do agree that they can lack a vital portion of information. For example, the photos of the penguins could cause people to care about what happen to them, but they don’t mention what would happen to them if climate change were to happen. This photoset does a good job of evoking sympathetic feelings through the beauty of nature, making us want to take action to prevent the loss of these things.

    I guess they are a good way of making someone more aware of the issue, which could be essential in getting others to take action. I feel that if people saw these images and cared enough, they’d probably look up more statistics and implications of climate change.

    Still, it is nice to have these photos to give us an idea of what would be affected.

  2. I believe images can be very powerful, but I do not think this particular series of photographs would inspire many people to take action against global warming. The animals appear to be surviving, which might make readers believe that climate change is not a big deal. Also, many people will not intervene in a complicated, controversial issue like global warming until they have a personal connection to it or understand how the issue will affect them directly. These photos do not foster a sense of direct connection for the average American reader, which makes it difficult to care deeply about the larger issue at hand.

  3. I agree with your point that these images toward global warming is not really taken serious. This should be hesitate by any reader. After viewing these pictures and reading through words under each picture, I realize the impact from global warming toward the environment, and wildlife. Because of the warmed temperature, the iceberg is melting,many penguin could not survive. However, there are still many penguin and chick could bear the warming and surviving. Also, even the iceberg is melting, there are many still are there. Some readers will think that these impacts are not very serious. So, this will not involve many readers to focus on global warming. Otherwise, there are only pictures and short words for each pictures, which means less effective words for advocating people to against global warming. I think the most effective way is expressing through data or statistics. For example, the rate of death of penguin, seal or chicks during nineteenth centuries, twentieth century, and twenty first century.Then, making comparison for each century individually. This comparison will give reader more effective feeling of global warming.

  4. Xintong makes a really good point that what’s missing from these photos’ descriptions is context. There’s no immediacy because there are no past or future timelines. Warming doesn’t seem like a risk. Especially in the photo of the Neumeyer Channel, the gallery curator should have added details about people being displaced — that’s something people would care about! A slide or two within the gallery that offer only text could add a lot of informational context and still be an engaging way to communicate about climate change. The pictures are compelling, but without a message the pictures won’t make viewers think about warming or take action.

  5. I think these beautiful photographs are a better way of conveying the issue of climate change than fear-inducing or ‘shocking’ photos. In my opinion, fear-inducing images can cause negative psychological reactance, which could make people care less about the issue, or worse, take the opposing opinion. Furthermore, by showcasing the natural beauties of the world, people are reminded of what is at stake in a less disturbing way. Ultimately, I feel that this piece could benefit from some positive reinforcement, maybe a suggestion of how the reader could help out in restoring the environment could accompany each picture? Overall, I think this is a strong article that gets an important message across on a complex issue.

  6. Photojournalism can be one of the most effective ways to communicate to the general public about issues of the world around them because humans can only comprehend words and numbers in a limited way, whereas a photograph has the power to provide a raw, honest, and detailed view pertaining to the issue. That said, these photographs give readers the opportunity to see the atmosphere and wildlife of Antarctica, providing a heartfelt quality of life through the penguins that inhabit this area. However, a striking action shot of what climate change is doing to this habitat would be more persuasive than the “cute” pictures shown. This is not to say that the “cute” pictures are ineffective, they are effective, but actions about this issue in a photograph shows more of the problem.

  7. It is true that the images are beautiful to look at, but without proper context they can not provide actual information about global warming. The Extreme Ice Survey is a team of photographers that set up self timed cameras for long stretches of time by glaciers to visually track how much they recede. Here is a video of their work:

    I think something like this is much more informative. Personally, I think the issue of global warming is more impactful when discussed from a local level.

    The Ann Arbor Government tackled this issue well with a series of videos found here

    They highlight how climate change is affecting the city though data about increasing number of extreme storms, changing forest ecology, and more extreme heat in the summer. I think It is important to think about climate change not just as ice melting far away, but by the weather shifts and changing microenvirment that you inhabit.

  8. As a NatGeo fanatic who loves to watch depictions on Alaska and other arctic life narratives and profiles, I think these images are a vital component to showing the world the truth about Antarctica and Global Warming. If you concern is that these images exploit the beauty of the land and the overall cause, I am under the impression that sometimes “selling an image” is the best way to advance the mission of the cause. For example, in the context of poverty in Africa, I’ve found that people need images that make them reflect on their own lives or show a horribly desperate situation in which you, a single person, can make a major difference. While this strategy removes agency from victims, it’s effective in gaining support for charity and governmental orgs. I think the same is the case for pictures like the gentoo chick. People need to see the cuteness and the vulnerability in an image to care about the cause.

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