We’ve all seen the images of melting glaciers and polar bears in distress. But photographer Joan Sullivan didn’t think photos like these tell the whole story of climate change.

Aerial view of wind turbines

Sullivan: “The story, at least for most North Americans, was not about some distant glacier, stranded polar bears, something far away, something in the distant future.”

So she took a different tack and began using her camera to capture images of the transition to a low-carbon future.

Sullivan: “The focus for me is always on solutions.”

Sullivan documents the growth and spread of renewables by photographing the construction of new wind and solar farms. From the men and women on a job site, to the wind turbine on the horizon after the job is complete, she uses her camera to tell the story.

Joan Sullivan
Joan Sullivan

Her goal is to inspire people with the knowledge that solutions are already underway.

Sullivan: “I don’t think that we’re responding very well anymore to the facts, to the statistics. I think we need signs of hope, we need signs of progress. We need examples of how do we get from here to there.”

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And she hopes her photos, which emphasize the human element in solving the problem, will encourage others to take positive action on climate change.

Reporting credit: Jason Jackson/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Wind turbines photo by Joan Sullivan (Copyright protected).

More Resources
Joan Sullivan’s website
Living on the Edge 2015
Seven Nat Geo Photographers on Witnessing Climate Change

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...