The photograph shows sea ice on the coastal waters of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Photographer Subhankar Banerjee spent 14 months over a period of two years in the Arctic Refuge to document the cycles of seasons, the lives of the native Inupiat and Gwich’in peoples and the effects of global warming on the flora and fauna of this last great wilderness. The Arctic Refuge is the most debated public land in the United States, and the question of whether to open it up for oil drilling or to preserve it as wilderness has raged in the halls of US Congress for over two decades. Banerjee’s photographs were used on the US Senate floor to defeat critical oil-drilling legislation, and have been exhibited widely across the US. The Arctic Refuge is the most ecologically diverse conservation area in the entire circumpolar north, from large herds of caribou to denning polar bears to musk ox. Over 180 species of birds from six continents converge here to nest and to rear their young. It is also the land on which the native Gwich’in and Inupiat people have subsisted for over 10,000 years.
This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7