2017 in Photos: Capturing the Causes and Impacts of Climate Change

A dance troop marches past a Shell refinery in Norco, Louisiana's annual Christmas parade

The year 2017 was, in many ways, stormy. It brought more storms super-sized due to global warming and more people, including scientists, taking to the streets in response to the political climate.

This year for DeSmog I continued documenting a range of issues related to climate change, from extreme weather enhanced by it to the expanding industrial landscape contributing to it. 

This year I shot the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a storm researchers have shown was intensified by climate change, and the protests of people determined to protect the environment — a renewed movement kicked off with the Women's March in Washington, D.C., following Trump’s inauguration. 

In the mix I captured moments in the battle against Energy Transfer Partners’ Bayou Bridge pipeline, which only last week secured its last permit before construction can begin in Louisiana, and events in the ongoing struggle for clean air in the communities of Louisiana’s Cancer Alley. 

I’ve included photos taken in West Virginia and Ohio of coal power plants, a visual reminder of the need to transition to clean energy and the people living in the shadow of an industry in decline, despite President Trump’s promise to revive it. Also in the mix you’ll find documentation of the slow recovery for victims of last year’s record-breaking floods in Louisiana.

In December thousands of scientists descended on New Orleans for the world’s largest annual gathering of Earth and planetary scientists. While walking the halls of the convention center, I wondered if anyone had invited Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, who has stated that he is unsure of humankind's role in climate change. At the conference, the researchers presenting their work made it clear to me that the debate over climate change has long since passed. For those who accept science, the debate has shifted to climate solutions. 

With a president and administration packed with climate deniers doubling down attacks against science, it was no wonder scientists themselves left their labs and took to the streets of Washington, D.C., this April to defend and celebrate the method and people exploring and explaining our world. And little surprise that we would see the largest ever march for climate action shortly thereafter. 

I look forward to contributing more photos and stories in 2018 here at DeSmog, an outlet that continually debunks misinformation on environmental issues. This mission feels more vital than ever for those who care about the preservation of the planet as we know it. 

Protest sign reading 'Climate change is real. Read a book' at Donald Trump's inauguration
Washington, D.C. January 20, 2017. Protester with DisruptJ20 holds a sign in support of climate science at a demonstration near the National Mall during the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.

Woman holding 'Save the EPA. There's no planet B' sign at Women's March
One woman's sign calls to “Save the EPA” during a rally before the Women’s March on Washington the day after Trump's inauguration.

Full room of attendees at a public meeting for a permit hearing for Bayou Bridge pipeline
It was a full house at a permit hearing for the Bayou Bridge pipeline on January 12, 2017 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu testifying on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners at a Bayou Bridge pipeline permit hearing
Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, who testified on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners, was booed and heckled at a Bayou Bridge pipeline permit hearing. Someone from the crowd yelled: “You’re a traitor!” Another shouted: “You used to work for us.”

A resident of St. Joseph, Louisiana fills a glass with discolored water from his tap
St. Joseph, Louisiana, resident Lee Richardson gets discolored water from his tap, which tested positive for lead. 

A St. Joseph, Louisiana resident with her washing machine full of discolored water
St. Joseph resident Rudy Shorts fills her washing machine to see if the water is usable and opts not to use it, waiting for the contaminated municipal pipes to be replaced. 

Environmental scientist Wilma Subra speaks in St. Joseph, Louisiana
Environmental scientist Wilma Subra speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony for St. Joseph’s new water system on March 6. Gov. John Bel Edwards also spoke, celebrating the project, but explaining that there isn’t enough money to fix all the water systems in Louisiana that need to be updated.

Sen. Bill Cassidy speaking at a town hall in Louisiana
Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy at a town hall in Metairie, Louisiana, where he misspoke about the major contributors to global warming.

Denka Performance Elastomer factory in LaPlace, Louisiana
Denka Performance Elastomer factory in LaPlace, Louisiana, where the EPA has issued a warning call about toxic chloroprene emissions in the air. 

Bayou Bridge pipeline protesters march with signs
Opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline, a project proposed by Energy Transfer Partners that would be the tail end of the Dakota Access network, walk toward the entrance of Louisiana’s environmental permit hearing on February 8.

Retired Major General James 'Spider' Marks who has ties to a private security firm used at the Dakota Access pipeline construction site
Retired Major General James “Spider” Marks speaking at a Louisiana Department of Natural Resources public permit hearing for the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Napoleonville on February 9, 2017. Marks chairs the advisory board for TigerSwan, a private security firm employed by Energy Transfer Partners on behalf of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.

A fire rages at a Phillips 66 natural gas pipeline site in Paradis, Louisiana
A fire raging on February 10, the day after an explosion at a Phillips 66 natural gas pipeline in Paradis, Louisiana.

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Main image: A dance troop marches by Shell’s Norco refinery during Norco, Louisiana’s Christmas Parade. All images © Julie Dermansky