Photographers have long trained their lenses on the atrocities of war, and even influenced the outcomes of few major battles. J Henry Fair is a member of that politically motivated tribe, though his focus is on the war we seem to be unwittingly waging against our own planet. In the Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis (powerHouse Books), he offers disquieting pictures of environmental disasters. Some have been well-publicized, like the BP oil spill, but Fair reveals the ones that have not received their fair share of media attention, such as the pools of contamination left behind by a rusted, abandoned aluminum refinery.
Fair hopes that his pictures will help revise our buying habits.
“Because of the subject the pictures are inherently political,” Fair writes in the introduction, “but my first goal was to create compelling images.” That he does: The photos are uncannily beautiful, in much the same way that satellite pictures of Earth can be, but they also bring into sharp relief the catastrophic damage wreaked by the production of oil, coal power, and paper — the products most of us consume, in some form or other, on a daily basis.
And that awareness, Fair hopes, will drive us to revise our buying habits: “If we all demanded toilet paper made from old newspapers instead of blithely purchasing brands made from old-growth forests, those forests would be saved as would all of the animals who live there.” If we all forgo the Charmin, the plastic water bottles, and the car rides to the grocery store, we could hand Earth at least a fighting chance.