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7 October 2019

Before Greta was known globally or there were mass climate strikes in the streets, this series was begun exactly one year ago from this writing when the IPCC released their special report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC warning that unless changes are made now, by 2030, we will no longer be able to mitigate humanity’s effect on the heating planet. It was one of the most crucial documents pertaining to human existence ever written. If the events it warns of do take place then it will be the most important document humanity ever produced.

In 2030 people aged 12-20 will be in the prime of their lives when 2030 comes. I wondered if this age group cared or even knew of the report when it was released. After reading the NYT article on it I immediately texted my niece:

Me: Hey, I have a question: any thoughts on the climate report that was just released?

Gracえ: the climate report abt how the degree level for like drastic change is lower than we thought? if yes absolutely terrified

A couple hours later I interviewed her and would follow that up with more throughout New York over the course of the year.

All portraits were shot in New York in locations that might be underwater during the course of the subjects’ lifetimes. Those in the background are comprised of mostly older generations, many of whom will be in advanced age or no longer living by the time the climate crisis is predicted to hit. With their knowledge and concerns those looking into the camera are all too aware that they will be the ones to live in this changed, inhospitable world as the world passes them by.

Special thanks to Oceanic Global and @arcadiaearth for introducing me to some of the people featured here.

John hopes to be a public school teacher in his native Coney Island after he graduates college—but he’s afraid that there might not be any students to teach because their homes are at risk of being washed away due to the rising seas and future storms.

Jade co-leads Arts for the September 20th Climate Strike in New York City. She is a member of Fridays for Future, a youth movement for global climate action started by Greta Thunberg in 2018. Lozada is also a writer and poet, who recently performed at the Apollo Theater in Climate Speaks, a spoken word poetry competition presented by the Climate Museum.

Alice is concerned that living on an island next to the water she may not have a house to live in in 50 years. However she still believes that there’s some actions we can take to turn things around and one of those is making sure that we call our representatives to make sure they understand and act on our concerns for the future.

I met Madeline after the Global Climate Strike on September 20 just after Greta Thunberg finished speaking. After marching, Madeline took a moment in the fountains to cool off. The symbolism of her in the fountains was just too fitting so I asked for an interview. She spoke of how she works with international students and how she sees the traumas they experience when their homes are impacted by hurricanes and all they can do is watch from New York as their loved ones suffer through the events that decimated their families and communities.

Gracえ, 15, is innovating ways to dispose of food waste so that her individual C02 footprint is lessened. She’s also working within her community to pass on what' she’s learnt. She hopes that there will be still be coral reefs for her to explore when 2030 arrives.
Aaron, 12, hopes that the future will not be as bleak as he fears it might be in 2030. If we’re to turn things around, he says that ecological advances need to be profitable, otherwise nobody will invest in the things that will continue to make the planet hospitable. With things going the way they are now, he fears that entire populations will be confined to indoor spaces and the only way people will be able to receive sustenance is by drone delivery.
Crystal’s passion, 16, is reading books. She dreams that she will be able to visit the places she’s read so much about, but she fears that by the time she’s able to travel to these places they may no longer exist—including her ancestor’s land in Guyana.
Gregor, 12, remembers seeing people die during Hurricane Sandy and it’s left him wondering what the future will hold for him. In order to bring about positive change, he reminds his friends that the earth is theirs to inherit and that they have their part to play in making sure that the future is a habitable one. He thinks about the best transportation to use and the small acts that people can make, that, taken together, can have a large impact on the planet.
Freesia, 17, can’t vote—yet. She’s one year away from being able to have that right, however she she’s encouraging people who can vote to vote on her behalf. She says that even if there are small changes in the laws to help preserve the environment, taken together, they can make big changes.