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Courtesy of 

Irina Werning

Climate Change

Highly Commended

Irina Werning

Pablo, the last habitant of Epecuen

Epecuen, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina

When I heard about 95-year-old Pablo Novak, the only habitant of Epecuen I contacted his grandson to do a project with him. His family invited me to spend New Year with them so I packed my bags and family and we travelled 600 km to Epecuen. Epecuen, a tourist village founded by Lake Epecuen with healing properties in the 1920s, submerged underwater in the 1980s due to years of heavy rain resulting in a dam break. It resurfaced in 2009 after 25 years due to extreme dry weather, fascinating us. Pablo and I embarked on a photographic collaboration about nature, climate and biodiversity. Unfamiliar with the term "Climate Change," he embodies the vital connection to nature we must emulate. Such individuals hold the key to sustainable solutions by using resources in harmony with their needs. Most of the human population, currently 77% and increasing, lives in urban areas and don’t rely on the immediate ecosystem around them but on complex and industrialized processes to provide for their daily needs. I am not so naive as to think that the uncontrolled technologization of the modern world will stop or even slow down. But I did learn from Pablo that we need to be more mindful of what this technology has cost us and the vital importance of direct experiences with nature to incorporate them in the education of our children. To defend nature, we must first fall in love with it. To fall in love with it we must experience it.

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