This photograph was made in South Sudan in the Darfur region in 1997. I was beginning to look at how climate change was effecting fragile ecosystems and the people who live within them.
Simply put, a 5 degree temperature increase in Antarctica means 25 percent less rainfall in South Sudan, and 4 inches of rain per year is now 3 inches of rain per year—putting that region more at risk for drought, which can easily lead to famine, as it did at the time of my visit.
The poles are the earth's icebox, regulating our temperatures and our ocean currents, and our entire civilization is now vividly tethered to our climate. We have had our own drought in the midwest, our nation's farmers have lost a great deal of their corn harvest, and all of us will feel this at the retail level in the coming months.
Last year I was in New York during the last week of October when they had unprecedented snow, this year, same week, was Hurricane Sandy. Our takeaway has to be change, but on a global level.
Japan has unofficially adopted the Polar Bear, and a national television ad campaign was created that shared the simple message: "Turn off a light, save a Polar Bear." These humble beginnings need to have a ripple effect worldwide. The entire world should be turning off a light, and saving a Polar Bear.
We need to start in our own lives first, then reach out to one another, then reach out to the GOOD community, who then reaches out, leveraging the voice of tens of thousands. How do we create the groundswell of support that President Obama achieved during his viral marketing campaign, and translate that into environmental hope? That is the challenge of our lifetime and the legacy of what we leave behind.