Tragic photos can change the course of history—but not always - National Geographic
Posted: 24 Jul 2020 11:45 AM PDT
The image is frightening. A corpse lies stiffly on a hospital bed, wrapped in plastic—a modern mummy. The room is dark, sterile, impersonal. No one sits with the body to mourn the life that was lost.A suspected victim of COVID-19, the person died in an Indonesian hospital. Nurses, fearful of infection, wound plastic around the body and sprayed it with disinfectant. Now it's utterly anonymous—physical characteristics shrouded, name and gender unknown, an object waiting to be discarded.Photojournalist Joshua Irwandi made the image while shadowing Indonesian hospital workers as part of a National Geographic Society grant. The photograph ricocheted through the nation of 270 million people, which has been slow to fight the global pandemic."It's clear that the power of this image has galvanized discussion about coronavirus," Irwandi said from his home in Indonesia.But is it enough to change the trajectory of the pandemic in Indonesia, where the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Tracker reported 4,665 deaths and 95,418 cases as of July 24—a toll believed to be vastly undercounted?This sort of question arises every time a photograph seems to distill a current catastrophe. Can an image of death or suffering change public policy or popular sentiment? Even if images from the past have done so, do photographs retain this power in our image-saturated world? And if images can make a difference in the 21st century, what's taking so long?
Posted: 22 Jul 2020 12:18 PM PDT
In Alaska, where wildlife is never far away, most residents can ramble off a long list of animal sightings, from moose to brown bear to fox. But the Canada lynx is in a category of its own. Encounters with this striking feline, with tufted ears and mitten-like feet, are usually rare.Until recently. In Anchorage, Alaska's most populous city, the normally elusive cats are making regular appearances."If you look at the NextDoor app and Facebook posts, people are seeing lynx everywhere" in Anchorage, Alaska's most populous city, says David Saalfeld, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Many people, he adds, are surprised at how similar the 20- to 30-pound feline is to their own pets. When hunting, Canada lynx pounce in the same way, and their playful kittens are delightful to watch."We get so many reports of them being on people's porches looking in the windows. That's just like a house cat," Saalfeld says.
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