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Originally published December 19 2014

World-renowned photographer declares humans are predators pushing planet toward extinction

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) A world-renowned Brazilian photographer says Man is a reckless plunderer of the planet and is lethally short-sighted, and has suggested that humans are bound to destroy the earth.

Sabastiao Salgado has traveled the globe documenting the extremes of globalization, migration and unchartered territories. The activity of Mankind disturbs him most.

As reported by Agence France-Presse, during a visit to Hong Kong to promote an exhibition of images called "Genesis," which was the result of an eight-year worldwide photographic effort, the 70-year-old Salgado said Man's desire to tame nature was driving the world to the brink of extinction.

"If we don't come back to our planet... we won't be here for too long," Salgado told AFP in an interview. "We are not part of our planet anymore, we have become aliens."

The documentary photog has been too more than 100 of the world's 196 countries and territories, including Guatemala, Bangladesh and Rwanda, to document some of the most gruesome horrors of the world: war, poverty, starvation and displacement.

"Stench of human decay"

As the AFP further reported:

His dramatic portraits of remote, decimated landscapes and vulnerable or exploited communities -- including ship breakers in Bangladesh and gold mineworkers in Brazil -- profoundly shaped the medium of black and white photography and inspired generations of photographers.

Raised in a remote, rural area of central Brazil, Salgado was educated as an economist before turning to photography. When he was in his mid-20s, he first picked up a camera that his wife loaned to him; while he wound up coming to his profession later in life than most people, he said he knew it must be his calling.

"For the first time I saw through a viewfinder and from this moment on, my life changed," Salgado told the AFP.

He finally went professional in the early 1970s; since then, he has won a raft of prestigious awards. Some of his photos are hanging on walls of the Barbican Gallery in London, as well as the International Center of Photography in New York.

After covering the Rwandan genocide in the late 1990s, he was forced into hiatus after documenting countless deaths, an experience that exacted a heavy psychological toll on him.

He said he vividly recalls the disabling stench of human decay while watching piles of bodies be dumped into large mass graves by bulldozers, a sight which he says is ingrained into his memory.

"I started to die, my body started to be sick," he said, noting that to recuperate he retreated to the farmland in Brazil where he spent his childhood.

"I grew up in the hilly area... I remember my father walked with me in the big farms, we would walk to the highest part of the farm and sit there for hours seeing these incredible clouds, the lights crossing in between, it was enormous," he told the AFP.

However, to his anguish and horror, the lakes were all dried up and a great amount of rainforest had been lost to deforestation.

"Profound predators"

While his body and mind began to heal, he and his wife, Lelia, decided to replant the rainforest that was there.

"Today we plant more than 2.5 million trees, it's all rainforest again. (We) saved the jaguars, we have more than 170 different species of birds," he said.

As noted by the AFP:

Salgado's stunning wildlife images -- penguins skidding across icebergs, a lone baboon crossing sand dunes, water dripping from the tail of a whale -- are matched by his robust criticism of humans, [whom] he describes as "profound predators".

His images have served as a call to arms of sorts for humans to begin to preserve what they still have.

"We start to destroy everything, we start to domesticate the cattle and put cattle in prison, we create them by the tens of thousands and millions so we can eat them," he said.


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