A lone bear sits amidst mounds of trash in a landfill. Behind him, the smokey pit exhales flames taller than his frame.
When photographer Troy Moth spotted this scene, he immediately snapped an image. Later, when editing and recollecting on the experience, he couldn’t help but feel saddened — and bitter — at what he had captured.
Moth wrote on Bored Panda:
“When I arrived at the landfill the smokey pit was on fire with flames coming up taller than the bear. I was speechless, in complete shock of what I was seeing. When I finished making the photograph, the bear turned slowly and walked down into the smokey pit, disappearing from my sight. He never came back up during the rest of my time there.”
He added, “It took me a very long time to process this photograph after, and I’m still not sure how I feel about. All I know is that it’s the only photograph I’ve ever made that has made me tear up on multiple occasions. And I’m sure still has more to teach me.”
By 2050, wildlife experts estimate 99 percent of birds will have plastic in their stomachs. And if poaching and habitat loss continue at the present rate, the African elephant — and other majestic beasts — will go extinct within a mere 10 years.
The image above encapsulates every horrifying statistic animal rights activists and environmentalists have been sharing for years. The time to adopt sustainable change is now. Climate change is changing the face of this Earth, and the environment — which includes wildlife — cannot afford for more carbon emissions to be pumped into the atmosphere.
If this image conveys any message, it is that it is nearly too late to act. Humans are responsible for environmental degradation, and only through conscious actions may present woes be reversed. This image will inspire a range of emotions — which is necessary. Unless humans adopt sustainable change, scenes such as this one will become increasingly common.