Humans have made an indelible mark on the planet. Since the mid-20th century, we've accelerated the digging of mines, construction of dams, expansion of cities and clearing of forests for agriculture — activity that will be visible in the geological record for eons to come.
Photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier were inspired by this ongoing discussion of the debate over this new geological era. These three Canadian artists traveled to 22 countries to research and document "places of obvious, physical human incursions on the landscape," says filmmaker de Pencier.
They created over 50 images capturing the impact of humans on the Earth, like a sprawling, 30-acre
garbage dump in Kenya, large swaths of deforestation in Borneo and waterways damaged by oil siphoning in Nigeria.
Their expansive, multidisciplinary body of work is called .
The project, which includes
virtual reality and augmented reality, took four years to complete and launched in September 2018. The exhibition is currently on display at the
Fondazione MAST Museum in Bologna, Italy. And their film
will be shown in the U.S. this fall.
"[The Anthropocene Project] is almost looking back from a projected future, from the future geologist investigating what will remain in the rock record long after we're gone," de Pencier adds.
Here is a selection of photographs from the project.
Jonathan Lambert is a freelance science journalist based in Washington, D.C. You can follow him on Twitter:@evolambert.
Rebecca Ellis is a Kroc Fellow with NPR.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
Rebecca Ellis is a Kroc Fellow with NPR. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Brown University in 2018 with a Bachelor's in Urban Studies. In college, Rebecca served as a managing editor at the student newspaper, the Brown Daily Herald, and freelanced for Rhode Island's primary paper, the Providence Journal. She has spent past summers as an investigator at the Bronx Defenders, a public defender's office in the Bronx, New York, and as a reporter at the Miami Herald, filing general assignment stories and learning to scuba dive.