The Witness Tree: Impacts of Climate Change Through the Photographer’s Lens


The Witness Tree: “A tree that has witnessed historic events. A tree used to

Photo Credit: Carolyn Monastra - Lake Erie # 5, 2010

mark a property corner that cannot be reached because it lies off a cliff or in a body of water.”

Any “witness trees” in your life? Artist Carolyn Monastra’s current body of work is called the Witness Tree….

“my eyes and my camera will also act as witnesses and the resulting pictures will serve as permanent documents of these precious and precarious environments that are being affected by climate change.”

Carolyn Monastra, 2011

Carolyn photographed the tree you see here in 2010. It “lives” on the edge of Lake Erie. She took this picture to: “draw attention to the fact that the levels of the Great Lakes have been dropping due to decreases in winter ice and also warming due to higher temperatures.”

I first met Carolyn Monastra on a beautiful fall day at a coffee shop on Lexington Avenue in New York City. My first impression: passionate, articulate, committed, cautionary – yet also surprisingly hopeful. I think that Carolyn and I were meant to meet! Me – trying to reach people on climate change through my blog, activism and presentations; Carolyn – trying to reach people on climate change through her lens, her vision, her eyes and her art: A perfect match!

So, grab the kids in your life, meet my new friend Carolyn, and invite them along on Carolyn’s journey of discovery, wonder and witness. Most recently Carolyn is in Brazil, planning a trip up the Amazon. She traveled to Brazil from a visit to the Antarctica Peninsula where she learned about some of the impacts of climate change on Antarctica including: receding glaciers, rocky peaks appearing earlier in the season due to warmer temperatures, penguin populations shifting and declining. Check out some of Carolyn’s amazing photos of this “other world!”

Through the Witness Tree project Carolyn has plans to visit or has already visited: Costa Rica, Africa, Bangladesh, China, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany the Arctic and several places in the USA – just to name a few! We will be bring you periodic updates on Carolyn’s world travels here at ClimateMama and you can go directly to Carolyn’s blog to follow her journey more closely.

Thanks Carolyn, for all you are doing as a “witness’ for all of us on humankind’s impact on our natural world. Not only is this an important body of work for future generations, but it is equally and perhaps more important for those of us around today who are looking for that “proof” of the changes that we know are taking place around us, but are sometimes too hard to grasp. Let’s hope through committed people like you that we will begin to not only recognize these changes you are showing us, but work to lessening the causes of these impacts as well.



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