Sustainability can be described as meeting the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. As Kofi Annan eloquently summarized in his Millennium Report to the General Assembly, "Freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the freedom of future generations to sustain their lives on this planet" are the three of the greatest challenges facing the global community. Clearly not a simple task, achieving sustainability requires communication, collaboration, and creativity.
In order to ensure that the scientific knowledge produced is accessible to decision makers and in order to ensure that the science conducted is in line with societal goals, a more intimate conversation between science and society is needed. It is through the visual arts that this conversation can be sparked and sustained.
Science and the visual arts have a long intertwining history. Digital photography and the world wide web are redefining this relationship. Locally and globally, scientists are partnering with visual communicators in innovative ways to share knowledge and ideas for sustainable solutions to the environmental challenges communities are facing. These partnerships are opening unique dialogues about what communities know, what they want and what is possible. These partnerships are leading to solutions that are not only scientifically-informed, but societally accepted.
The purpose of this issue is to illustrate, celebrate and encourage the use of photography to advance research and education that will lead us on the path to sustaining the ecosystem services on which we depend. Whether the topic at hand is biodiversity, global climate change, urban green spaces or stormwater management, GigaPan images allow for visual, interactive, collaborative, and place-based exploration, inquiry and discovery.
Molly Mehling, Guest Editor of this issue of GigaPan Magazine, grew up just west of Pittsburgh. As child of the Appalachian hills, she witnessed both the natural beauty of the region and the struggle for transformation beyond its industrial identity. As an ecologist, environmental scientist and photographer, Molly works to generate and communicate knowledge for environmental decision making. In the classroom, in the field and in the community, Molly uses photography to spark and facilitate dialogue about nature, science and sustainability.
For more info visit her website mollymehling.com.
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