Edward Burynsky’s book, ‘Manufactured Landscapes‘ published by Yale University Press is an important environmental photography album focused on the impact of our production and resource extraction activities on the Planet. Exploring the otherworldly entropic landscapes of copper and coal mines in the USA, urban waste collection sites, nickel tailings river in Canada and the ship-breaking sites in Bangladesh, the book is drawing our attention to the harmful effects of production activities supporting our consumer society.
Accompanied by a major documentary film, ‘Manufactured Landscapes‘ and widely exhibited around the world, the series of images presented by Burtynsky is essentially a call to action to develop a truly green economy, reconsidering our relationships with nature and making steps towards reducing the burden of our activities on the carrying capacity of the Earth. In his seminal 1966 essay ‘The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth‘, British economist Kenneth Boulding questioned the growth orientation of our economic systems and discussed the issues of entropy, pollution and proposed the following definition of progress: ‘The essential measure of the success of the economy is not production and consumption at all, but the nature, extent, quality, and complexity of the total capital stock, including in this the state of the human bodies and minds included in the system’. It seems that 50 years after this publication we are just beginning to make progress with renewables, sustainable cities and circular economy models.
Environmental photography is becoming a powerful language to engage new audiences with a strong sustainability message. The book is still available via Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Manufactured-Landscapes-Photographs-Edward-Burtynsky/dp/0300099436/
Boulding K. (1966) The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth/ In H. Jarrett (ed.) 1966. Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy, pp. 3-14. Baltimore, MD: Resources for the Future/Johns Hopkins University Press.
Burtynsky E. (2003) ‘Manufactured Landscapes’, Yale University Press
Image (c) Edward Burtynsky