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Photo Exhibition - Tom Hegen
Only a few places on earth have remained untouched by man to this day. Our drive to discover, explore, acquire, and command the world ranges from the highest mountain peaks to the darkest deep-sea trenches.
We pour asphalt on the ground and turn it into roads. We tunnel through mountains because they get in our way, just so we can drive faster from point A to point B. We drill holes in the ground to tap into the earth’s natural resources. We grow, excavate, cultivate, blast, clear, burn, fertilize, pave, pollute, and poison. As a result, only around one quarter of the earth’s surface is now free of traces of humankind.
We are often not even aware of the extent to which we lay claim to the environment for our needs. After all, our landscape has been changing for more than 10,000 years, since the beginning of agriculture and livestock farming. We live in a man-made cultural landscape characterized by intensive agriculture, construction, and the extraction of raw materials.
Humankind’s influence on Earth is now so great that scientists are already talking about the Anthropocene. This is an age in which humans have become the most important factor influencing the biological, geological, and atmospheric processes on Earth. In the name of greater growth and ever more consumption, we are changing our planet primarily for economic and political interests. In view of the enormous scale of these interventions, the question arises for each individual: Should I accept the course of things as “natural” or should I try to take responsibility, striking a path toward more sustainable development?
The aerial photographs by Tom Hegen show, how human beings shape their environment. The images are abstract and aesthetically appealing. They focus on habitats dramatically changed by human activity and encourage discovery of our environment from a new perspective.
By the end of this century, the world’s population is expected to increase to 11 billion people. How will ever more people cope with the earth’s limited resources? We must ask ourselves these questions and start acting more responsibly, even if only out of pure selfishness, so as not to endanger our own livelihood.
If we better understand the planet we live on, we may also be able to use and shape it more sustainably in the future. We only have this one earth. That is why we should respect, protect, and preserve it while it is still possible. We have the knowledge, the technology, and the strength to do so.