CNN Photos

On the shore of a vanishing island

Daesung Lee sees global connections the rest of us often don't recognize or choose not to dwell on.

Lee, an international photojournalist, spent two months photographing the people of Ghoramara Island, located in the Ganges Delta region in India’s West Bengal state. The island has been dramatically affected by global climate change.

“I have researched the effect of global warming, which is caused by mass consumption and pollution. Since the 1980s, more than 50% of the Ghoramara has vanished due to erosion by the sea. As a result two-thirds of the population have moved away from the island,” Lee says.

“This world is more connected than we can imagine by globalization. Most of the products we use for everyday life are produced by people we never know.”

He says many people who aren’t involved in the consumption of these products become “environmental refugees.”

“I hope people realize that climate change is more serious than we know and we have a major responsibility for it. I also hope people consider the impact that our consumption has on the world … and make efforts to reduce it by recycling products and using them long term.”

Working on the remote island had its challenges. With no electricity, Lee was forced to leave the island to go to the mainland every three days to charge his camera batteries.

He posed villagers on the shore and took portraits of them in juxtaposition with the beauty of the vanishing island.

“The villagers in Ghoramara have begun to save money in preparation to buy new farms,” Lee says. “I could see the traces of a heritage vanishing by the rising tides. Exposed roots of plants destroyed by the erosion serve to illustrate the absence of foundation in the lives of these people. The sea is swallowing up their past, while their future remains unknown.”

- Robert W. Johnson, CNN