by Will Parson
April 23, 2020
No single photo can capture all the links between our actions and their environmental impact. Sometimes, the instinct is to pull away and show the wide view, in order to illustrate the first rule of ecology: that everything is connected. The most extreme—and successful—example of this approach is probably the photograph known as “Earthrise,” made by astronaut Bill Anders aboard Apollo 8 in 1968. It encapsulated the growing environmental movement by speaking to the fact that we are all in this together. It reminded us that we share a home on “spaceship Earth.”
But most attempts to take a step back end up losing sight of the intimate moments that reflect how we depend on the environment every day. Cooking fresh food for dinner, drawing clean drinking water from the tap, catching your breath, visiting the local park—moments like these matter the most.
The wide view of the Chesapeake watershed can show how pollution sources connect to their impacts downstream. At the same time, it’s important to remember that the environment is not something far away. Though the positive impacts of our collective actions—like planting shade trees that also soak up nutrients, installing rain gardens that also make sidewalks safer, and adopting conservation practices that also boost harvests—ultimately help restore the Chesapeake Bay, their benefits begin closer to home.