Photographs do not simply speak for themselves. Their meanings are built through interpretive frameworks that shift over time. Today, photographs of receding glaciers are one of the most well recognized visualizations of human-caused climate change. These images, captured through repeat photography, have become effective with an unambiguous message: global warming is happening, and it is happening now. But this wasn't always the case. The meaning and evidentiary value of repeat glacier photography has varied over time, reflecting not only evolving scientific norms but also social, cultural, and political influences.
In Capturing Glaciers, Dani Inkpen historicizes the use of repeat glacier photographs, examining what they show, what they obscure, and how they influence public understanding of nature and climate change. Though convincing as a form of evidence, these images offer a limited and sometimes misleading representation of glaciers themselves. Furthermore, their use threatens to replicate problematic ideas baked into their history. With clear and compelling writing, Capturing Glaciers ultimately calls for a centering of climate justice and warns of the consequences of reducing the problem of global warming to one of distant wilderness.
Dani Inkpen is assistant professor of history at Mount Allison University.
"Topical, carefully researched, and delightfully narrated."
– Joshua P. Howe, author of Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming
"A fabulous and inspiring book that adds a crucial voice in today's climate change discussions."
– Mark Carey, author of In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society