World-renowned photojournalist Gary Braasch died on March 7, 2016 while photographing coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Gary’s great passion was to visualize climate change and educate the public about the serious impacts humans are having on natural systems. His photographs told vivid stories about global change, and they inspired action in an extraordinary array of citizens. Gary was a gifted pioneer in explaining science as stories, instead of as technical publications. He doggedly followed field scientists around the planet, using his photographs to share their adventures of data collection, discovery, and working in some of the most extreme conditions. From the decline of canopy biodiversity in tropical rain forests and Andean glacial melt to plastic debris in bird rookeries and coral bleaching in Australia, Gary told science stories through his camera lens. He was tireless in his ambition to educate not only policy makers, but also youth, as stakeholders in the future of our natural systems.
Gary’s images were featured as giant billboards in airports, in books for young and old, at a special outdoor exhibit at the climate change conference in Copenhagen, in science museums, (and he aspired to show them at the Super Bowl). His book, Earth Under Fire, was delivered to the desks of every Congressperson at the time of its publication. I had the privilege of knowing Gary for over three decades, teaming up in the tropical jungles of the Amazon, the redwood forests of California, and the rising seas of coastal North Carolina and Florida. He was the embodiment of Mother Nature himself – able to see the landscape as a scientist but also capable of capturing the natural world as an artist. He interwove the role of humans on natural systems in ways that left viewers laughing, crying, or simply shaking their heads in disbelief. While I worked as a canopy scientist perspiring through my research in the Amazon, Gary followed me to the tops of tall trees to capture stories about how scientists discover biodiversity in some of the most out of the way places. He also traipsed through the jungle darkness, tiptoeing around bushmaster snakes, to photograph luminescent fungi on the forest floor. Then, at dawn, he eagerly greeted the sunrise at the top of our canopy walkway, capturing the sun’s first light on bromeliads clasping emergent trees. He possessed a sixth sense for nature and how to capture its inherent beauty.
Lynne Cherry, children’s book autho上海419龙凤网