Environmental degradation and pollution cause many problems, of which climate change is just one. Polluted water, polluted air, loss of top soil, desertification, damage to ecosystems and wildlife,… the list goes on.

How is pollution related to climate change? Pollution is primarily caused by over consumption, which is caused by over population and the ease of making more “stuff” with the fossil fuel resources we have. Much of that “stuff” is plastic; but of course, we have too much of everything these days. Too many cars and trucks on the road spewing CO2, too many animals in confinement in factory farms creating massive amounts of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—and waste that ruins water resources, too many buildings using too much concrete, one of the main emitters of CO2 during the concrete manufacturing process.

Too much of everything leads directly to climate change. There are too many of us using too much stuff, generating too much CO2 to make all that stuff. And thus we have the problem to end all problems: climate change.

Fabrice Monteiro is a photographer from Senegal, a country in Africa. He has created a powerful series of photographs showing environmental degradation in Senegal and elsewhere in the world. Combining experience from his modeling background and interest in fashion with his passion for photography, the series takes a hard look at what human-kind is doing to the planet. Titled The Prophecy, the images feature mysterious creatures made from garbage and natural materials, highlighting issues like oil pollution, air pollution, plastic pollution, and resource degradation. Monteiro worked with costume designer Doulsy and a model to create the creatures that seem to give life to the “stuff” of human-kind that is so damaging the Earth. The results are both beautiful and horrifying.

Artists and designers here on Bainbridge are also doing work to highlight our consumption problem through sculpture, photography, and design. For instance, Craig Jacobrown writes a blog, PlasticsAreForever.wordpress.com, featuring his plastic sculptures. A similar approach to highlighting plastic trash was on display in 2011 at BPA, featuring work by Leisl Clark, Steve Schmidt, Rebecca Rockefeller, and Odyssey 7th and 8th graders. This work led Leisl, Rebecca, and other collaborators to create TrashBackwords, a web site and app aimed at making it easier to reuse and recycle trash. And a series of paintings by Karen Hackenberg, a Port Townsend artist, titled Watershed, was featured at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, back in winter 2015.

Do these art works and other efforts make you think more about your plastic consumption and the ways we impact the world? We’d love to hear from you how art might have changed how you see pollution in the world, so comment below!

You can see more of Fabrice Monteiro’s work on his web site.

A short film about the making of “The Prophecy” was screened at the 2015 New York African Film Festival. A trailer for that film is on Vimeo.

And for more insight into The Prophecy there is an interesting interview with Monteiro at The Mantle that describes his goals in making the work to make Africans more aware of the pollution problem and the need to fix it.