Sebastiao Salgado's address to the Summit of Consciences for the Climate
Sebastiao Salgado addresses the Summit of Consciences.
Mr Sebastião Salgado, photographer, is famous for his reporting on the beauty of nature as well as the disasters caused to nature and humanitarian disasters in Mali, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea etc. With his wife, Lelia they planted 2.5 million trees on the family farm in Brazil, now known as Instituto Terra.
In the 1990s I was in the most violent situation you can imagine: the genocide in Rwanda – I fell ill and it was so bad I couldn’t believe in anything. I believed we had had no right to live. My parents were old and they made decision to pass on their farm in Brazil to me. I remembered it from my childhood as a paradise. Then it was 60% tropical paradise – but when I then saw it again in the 1990s the land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed. Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees. But I felt I had a huge debt to it.
My wife had a fabulous idea to replant this forest and when we began to do that all the insects and birds and fish returned. Thanks to this increase of the trees I too was reborn – this is the most important moment. We need to listen to the words of the people on the land. Nature is the earth and it is other beings and if we don’t have some kind of spiritual return to our planet I fear that we will be compromised.
At these meetings we talk a lot about the reduction of our carbon footprint – how we can reduce our carbon emissions – yet every year the problem is becoming more serious – we heard about efforts but the number of people is increasing and so the carbon footprint is increasing. And whatever we do and wherever we go the amount of carbon emissions will increase.
Perhaps we have a solution though. There is a single being which can transform CO2 to oxygen - trees. We need to replant the forest. We have replanted 2 million trees on our farm. We aren’t rich. I’m a photographer and my wife is a designer she designs books and exhibits.
In France we hear it is 29.3 percent forests. But these aren’t real these are monoculture. You need forest with native trees, and you need to gather the seeds in the same region you plant them or the serpents and the termites won’t come. If you plant forests that don’t belong the animals don’t return and the forest is silent.
For me the answer is simple. It's not to go the direction of boring bureaucratic discussion. We need to bring in the peasants and the people of the land. We can do it and we can capture our own CO2 – on our little farm we are capturing the CO2 from the publishing house Taschen with our little farm.
It is not just technology that will save the planet. It is also the trees.
Paris summit of Conscience for the Climate July 21 2015
Why do you care about the environment? A groundbreaking summit, advised by ARC, hosted by the French Government in Paris on July 21st, will bring together major religious and moral figures ahead of the December COP21 to ask exactly that.
June 5, 2015: Summit of Conscience for the Climate
Why do you care about the environment? A groundbreaking summit, hosted by the French Government in Paris on July 21st, will bring together major religious and moral figures ahead of the December 2015 UN climate change COP talks to ask exactly that.