The Amazon’s destruction in everyday color is terrible enough. But a special photographic method reveals the true toll of mining, logging, and other human activities on the world’s largest rainforest.
Artist Richard Mosse used multispectral photography to create large-scale images, which he refers to as “living maps,” that capture the forest in a state of dire decline, one that could lead to irreversible tipping points in just a few decades. They are part of his new Tristes Tropiques exhibition, a body of work that describes the destruction being carried out across what Mosse calls the Amazon’s “arc of fire,” the area of land with the highest number of fires per year in the rainforest. This area is roughly equivalent to the distance between the U.S.’s northern border with Canada and its southern border with Mexico.
Mosse’s photos highlight the horrific situation in the Amazon, which is one of the planet’s most important sources of carbon sequestration, capturing and storing billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year. But if we’re not careful, the rainforest could be lost—and with it, one of our best natural allies to protect the Earth’s climate.