Iceland, 2014
Rising temperatures in Iceland, 2014.



The Earth Might Be Dying, But These Photos Will Leave You Breathless

For about ten years, photographer Daniel Beltrá has been traveling the world, documenting a uniquely modern duality—that is, beauty in the midst of tragedy, and especially environmental tragedy. These days, this duality is nearly impossible to avoid. (After all, the Gowanus Canal wouldn’t be the glittering, technicolor cesspool it is now were it not for all that pollution.)

Beltrá’s photography takes this natural contradiction and blows it up to a whole new scale. His aerial shots of landscapes affected by rapid climate change and other human-made disasters span all seven continents, and come together to create an image of our world that’s as unsettling as it is breathtaking.

Antartica is melting–Southern Ocean, 2007

Rising temperatures in the antarctic are naturally detrimental to the region’s icebergs, and the habitats of the animals that live there. These portraits of the Southern Ocean’s lonely, fragmented landscape illustrate that perfectly. Harder to photograph, though, is the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere making oceans like this one more and more acidic, which is consequently killing off staggering numbers of underwater creatures.

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Pretty! Sad!

Oil, oil everywhere–Gulf of Mexico, 2010

This photo was taken over the Gulf of Mexico during the infamous BP oil spill six years ago. A disaster of almost biblical proportions, oil from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead leaked incessantly for 87 days, making it the largest accidental oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. 

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Kind of like a creamsicle. That ruins the environment.

Deforestation devastation–Amazon Rain Forest, 2013

Deforestation in the Amazon has generally been on the decline since major limits on soy farming were implemented in the mid-2000s. There have been a few upticks since, however, including one in 2013, when Beltrá took this photo. Since then, we’ve been losing close to 6,000 square kilometers of forest per year.

A fallen castanha tree lies in a soy field cleared from Amazon rainforest outside of Santarem, Brazil.
Bye, oxygen suppliers.

Man carving into Earth–Iceland, 2014

Rapidly rising temperatures in Iceland are causing glaciers to melt, creating a “concentrated, water-carved landscape,” Beltrá says. The debris-rich “glacial deposits give [the landscape] textures and colors rarely seen by man.” This photo series is an eerie reminder of the ability humans have to massively alter the Earth’s topography.

Iceland #15
Melting glaciers–again, scary yet beautiful.

Obvious Global Warming–Greenland, 2014

Beltrá’s Greenland photos were part of , and the two photo series show interestingly contrasted perspective Today, 80% of Greenland is covered by ice, but that doesn’t mean that melting glaciers aren’t still a huge problem. If anything, the carvings made by abrasive glacial meltwater in the country’s vast, icy landscapes make the impact of global warming all the more visibly striking.

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Beautiful. Except we live on a dying planet.

Images via This Is Colossal

Stay tuned to Milk for more lovely environmental disasters.

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