Those Who Push Us Beyond -
Paul Nicklen

[All photos click through to original source]

Written November 15th 2016

Paul Nicklen, who grew up largely in a tiny community of 200 people on Baffin Island in the Arctic Circle, has been capturing the salvation's, and struggles, of the polar regions of Earth for over twenty years now.

Throughout this time, he has gifted the world with the most raw, unfiltered, and beautiful displays of some of the least documented regions on this great planet. Beyond simply documenting the natural treasures of these extreme regions, he has opened up the dialogue, and pushed forward the conversation of conservation. Bringing to light the extent of our influence on such volatile terrain, and putting emotion on the face of an otherwise factual debate. The ice is melting, we’ve heard it all before, but what does that actually mean? And why should we really care? Give Paul five minutes of your time, and all of the sudden those big stats and figures you’ve been hearing about aren't just predictions of ice melt, or dates of recession, but deadlines for the extinction of real, breathing life.

Having captured some of the most intimate moments ever seen before of Polar Bears, Narwhals, and Leopard Seals (just to name a few), Paul has really pushed the boundaries of showing what it truly means to dedicate oneself fully to their passion. To consistently dance along the line of life, and emerging a better person for it. Nicklen has some truly incredible stories of his encounters with the creatures of the cold, just a couple of which are highlighted in this 15 minute Ted Talk below that he gave back in 2011. His story of the relationship between him and a female Leopard Seal just may one of the greatest I've heard in my life.

If his words resonated with you, on any level, I highly recommend diving deeper into some of the other great experiences that he has to share with the world. Throughout his many years working with The National Geographic, Paul has published over 20 stories for the magazine, highlighting the fragile and fickle relationships of animal and environment, with focus on marine wildlife in the ever evolving polar regions. All of his stories, each more inspiring than the next, can be found through his website here.

If you watched the Ted Talk above, you now know that he not only explores the Arctic and Antarctic circles, but has also spent a lot of time in British Columbia, documenting, and building a personal relationship with the ever elusive, and incredibly rare Kermode (Spirit) Bear. These bears are found nearly exclusively in the Great Bear Rainforest of the Northern British Columbia Coast. Neither Polar, nor Albino, the Kermode Bear is a rare variation of the North American Black Bear that is estimated to be at a total population of under 400. If you're interested in learning more about this truly special species, this article Nicklen was involved in delves much deeper into their existence. Much of this population has been endangered by the forwarding of a massive pipeline project that bids to expedite Canada's place in the world petroleum market. A problem that Nicklen is all too familiar with, this National Geographic Article explains in greater detail.

Paul Nicklen is more than a photographer, more than a storyteller, he is a voice for those of which we cannot communicate with. He evokes reality into a distant world of numbers and graphs. He puts faces to the unseen, and personalities to the unknown. Climate change won't just affect us, and it's not just a problem for the future. It changes every corner of this earth, and it is doing so now. Hopefully, with a few more champions like Paul Nicklen in this world, we can stop glaring at the abstract, and start fighting for the reality.

Whilst I can only begin to scratch the surface highlighting the contributions this man has made to our planet, please take some time to learn more about him, and his work, through his website.