A free, outdoor photographic exhibition showing humankind's impact on our planet opened today outside the Scottish Parliament building. It is called "A Human Touch", which would seem a somewhat ironic title. When you consider how our species has reassembled natural landscapes the world over to fit its wants and needs, it's very difficult to view our impact as being something as gentle as a "touch".
Boot print might be more accurate. Or something more explosive.
The point is driven home by images in the exhibition, which is showing as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival: lush rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon turned into a gaping, brown pit for mining kaolin (a mineral clay used in paper production). Or an aerial shot of Malé, the doomed capital of the Maldives, where tall buildings press onto a tiny patch of land scarcely above the warming ocean.
Overconsumption, overexploitation, pollution, deforestation and climate change provide an all-too-familiar tone of loss and sense of unease about where we are headed.
Amanda Tyndall, Creative Director of the Edinburgh Science Festival who curated the exhibition, says:
"It’s important for Edinburgh Science to bring thought provoking science-themed content to wide and diverse audiences and partnering with Scottish Parliament and Oceana provides a wonderful opportunity to do just that. The photographers featured in this exhibition have travelled far and wide to examine the fragility of Earth’s varied landscapes and to capture beautiful and powerful images that we hope will make audiences take a moment to consider our impacts on our world but take away a sense of hope that things are not beyond repair.”
Speaking as the exhibition launched, the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer, Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP, said:
“The Scottish Parliament has always been proud of its connection to the land and its leadership on environmental sustainability. Our architects were inspired by Scotland’s landscapes, and constructed our home to sit naturally in the magnificent surroundings of Holyrood Park, so we are delighted to be hosting the Human Touch exhibition.
“These are powerful images, evoking feelings of dismay, hope, awe and determination to change. I would encourage as many people as possible to come along to see this display of world-class photography before 8th May.”
Pascale Moehrle, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe, added: “In every single one of Oceana’s at-sea marine research expeditions, we have captured human impact - including plastics and fishing litter - at unbelievable depths in the oceans. Producing less plastic is the best way to stop it from harming our fragile marine life”.
He added: “I hope that people go to the exhibition and see for themselves the impact we have on land and water and the difference we can still make to protect our planet”.
The Scottish Parliament is also hosting Science Festival Interactive Family Days on 6 and 13 April where visitors will be able to take a journey through space in an inflatable planetarium and discover the secrets of deep-sea coral before bouncing into the atmosphere on space-hoppers.