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Art, Wilderness and Wealth Extraction

When I look back at the many photos I have taken since starting Marine Ventures in 2000, I always felt the best were photos of great mountains, beautiful fish and rivers, whales and fish. Capturing the many different views of wilderness on land at at sea has been a true passion for me. But as beautiful as these wild animals and places are, I have found the photos of the human footprint on the land to be the most powerful images. Of the 12 photographs on this home page, only 2 of them depict just natural events - the tidal fingers from the Derby mud flats and the white marlin chasing baitfish in 1000 fathoms off the East Coast. The other 10 pictures represent the human impact on the planet whether it be there beauty of 40,000 year old rock art in the Kimberley to the Colorado River supplied water to irrigate farmland in Mexicali to the impact of solar evaporation on the Rio Tinto Salt Flats in Karratha, Pilbara.

For me these portraits capture the cultural landscapes of our time. All were created by human efforts to extract wealth and fix the damages caused by that extraction process. Whether it be oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, plastic pollution on Midway Island or my favorite an indigenous man in Yiyili, WA named Coolibah who told stories of his life as an indentured stockman on the vast cattle ranches of Western Australia, each and every one bear the scars of human wealth extraction.

And we all share equally in the wealth extraction from the global wilderness. The picture to the left is of a famous trout stream in the American West where its economic shareholders - ranchers, farmers, fishing guides, lodge and property owners - are discussing how to maximize the trout population to maximize the wealth extraction from this river. Everyone has a family and a home, money must be made and thus wealth extraction is the mission of everyone.

Sure some would say hey it is just fishing -a form of recreation. But I would disagree. Where there is wealth, there is extraction by us for our own benefit. The pictures and captions here document my journey to understand wilderness and wealth extraction and the depth of the human footprint on the planet. JTM 9/27/2017

Contact info

tom@marineventures.org