Intermission is a series of images made during the Covid 19 pandemic addressing the protection of the environment and how halting our continual intrusion into nature might revitalize it. This unprecedented experience brought much to a stop from combustion, construction, mining, agriculture and warfare; the environmental benefits became visible quickly. Air quality improved as people stayed home and practiced social distancing but it became clear to me that the environment needs a mask from the human race and its use of fossil fuels. This sudden break from industry pollutants and the use of freshwater to transport waste away from facilities has given the environment a chance to thrive. Each image exposes the threat pollution poses to our natural world and ultimately to the human population. To aid in the reduction of spread for future epidemics, reducing air pollution now will be important because pollution damages our respiratory systems making all of us more susceptible to such viruses.
About The Artist
Maria Coletsis works with issues concerned with identity and the environment. Since receiving her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, she has exhibited her artwork in galleries internationally. A solo art exhibition and book launch at the De Luca Gallery in Toronto for her recently published photography book, Behind the Whip: Dominatrix. Her photographs were included in the East London Photography Festival and chosen by the curator of the Whitney Museum for the Viridian Gallery open call in New York. Maria has contributed editorial photography for many international magazines and newspapers. Many of her images appear on book covers, websites and music covers. She continues to investigate and photograph elements from nature to explore human nature.
It’s widely known that trees purify our air, filter our water, prevent erosion, and act as a buffer against climate change, and most of us also know what drives permanent destruction of forests i.e. large-scale agriculture and industrial farming, mining and its infrastructure, clearance to expand cities for more housing, construction supplies, paper products, packaging, furniture, etc. Humans don’t think twice, but divide and fragment habitats by roads, railways, power lines and other infrastructure. But how many of us know about the immediate or long-term impacts of deforestation? So how does deforestation affect us?
With nearly 80% of the world’s animal population, including humans, living in or depending on forests for survival, the loss of large forests in Asia, Africa, and South America is driving many species towards extinction. With nearly 137 animal and plant species going extinct every single day, our human-centric approach to commodify the world around us leads us to the brink of extinction ourselves, by interfering with complex and interrelated ecosystems beyond our capability to foresee the impacts. A more obvious impact is that deforestation is particularly bad for air quality, as trees don’t only turn carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen but they also filter the air and reduce pollution, especially dust pollution. And dust pollution isn’t typically the first thing we’d identify as main concern; it’s estimated that tropical deforestation and forest degradation is responsible for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) every year.
It is not a surprise then that COP26 in its first week focus lay on protecting and restoring our world’s forests. It may well be of the cheapest measures to make significant progress towards our ambitious goal to keep global warming below 1.5°C – just don’t cut down trees – leave forests untouched. Big wins for “inaction”. This is however, easier said than done as human greed and capitalistic systems keep us in a tight grip, pushing for further growth and expansion. But at what cost?
Whilst it is an amazing and encouraging outcome of COP16 that over 130 leaders, representing more than 90% of the world’s forests, pledged to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation, they got the date wrong i.e. by 2030! So we have 9 more years of maximum exploitation of nature’s resources ahead of us…