Remembering Gary Braasch
The world was stunned to learn of Gary Braasch’s sudden passing earlier this week. A world-renowned photographer and climate activist based out of Portland, Braasch was well-known not only for his visually striking photos, but for his tireless efforts to illustrate how a warming world is changing the very face of the planet we call home. From documenting shrinking glaciers, erosion in low-lying countries, extreme weather events, endangered species and more, Braasch has documented the effects of global warming since 1999. His work resulted in two books, countless features in publications like the New York Times and National Geographic, and an extensive archive of photographs and research. He founded World View of Global Warming, which began in 1999 with one assignment to Antarctica and continued around the globe as the only climate change documentation project independently undertaken by a photojournalist.
News of his death spread quickly as activists, journalists and fellow photographers learned he died doing what he loved: documenting the effects of climate change – in this instance as seen on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Although he was most widely recognized for his beautiful and tragic photographs of our changing environment, Braasch also spent time documenting the fossil fuel industry. He even took some of the first photographs of the hapless Kulluk, Shell’s Arctic oil rig now widely recognized as a symbol of the recklessness of Arctic oil exploration.
Born in Nebraska, Braasch eventually made his way to Portland and decided to make his life here. He was a natural talent; his son told The Oregonian that Braasch only ever took one photography class in his entire life. His son hopes to continue his dad’s legacy by spreading his ashes at every glacier he’d ever been to, as well as other sites he famously photographed. And this begs the question: How will we continue the legacy of a great photographer who so passionately worked to make others see that climate change is real, that we must act, now? Let us consider Braasch’s passing a call to action for us all; we must carry the torch to convince others that acting on climate change is an urgent imperative. In doing so, we will ensure that Gary Braasch’s photography lives on not only as documentation of our changing world, but as the photos that inspired us to act.
How can you help with Oregon’s climate movement right now? Oregon just became the first state ever to take legislative action to go coal-free. If you haven’t already, be sure to thank our local legislators for supporting the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Bill. By expressing your thanks our legislators will continue to know that acting on climate is an urgent priority for their constituents.