Polar Preservation with John bozinov
Growing up amongst the wilderness of New Zealand and experiencing, first-hand, life at the extremes of the Polar Regions, it's no surprise that photographer, John Bozinov, is on a mission to protect the natural world.
For just over a year, John has been working as a Polar expedition photographer aboard a vessel that travels to the Antarctic Peninsula and island groups across the Arctic. Not confined to the ship, John and the expedition team have permits allowing them on-land access, so close encounters with polar bears, penguins and seals are a regular occurrence.
"It's been a life-changing experience seeing these parts of the planet first-hand" he says, "I've grown a deep admiration for the animals that live in these areas; every ounce of their energy is focused toward working for their own survival and the wellbeing of their young."
Whilst many of these animals survive against the odds, the harshness of this unforgiving environment is ever-apparent. As John tells us, "Every day we come across dead animals while on expedition, mostly those who have died from exposure or starvation. I find myself compelled to photograph these animals; it's tragic yet also the reality of life in the Polar Regions and I think it's important for us to see the full story"
The full story also encompasses mankind's impact on this part of the world. As one of the fastest warming regions on earth, the Arctic is key to our understanding of how climate change will affect the rest of the planet if greenhouse gases aren't significantly reduced in years to come. Melting glaciers, receding sea ice and rising sea levels are all worrying signs of a world on the brink of massive change.
What has John learnt about the Polar Regions throughout his time there?
"It's a constant learning experience. I work with an experienced team of scientists who are all very knowledgeable in their respective fields. They've taught me a lot me about the regions, from the massive moving ice shelves in the Antarctic to the tiny plant species that inhabit the north, and a lot about their fragility too."
With this fragility in mind, John began a quest to live more sustainably and to encourage others to do the same. He speaks passionately about his connection to nature and his desire to protect it, "The only life we currently know of in the entire universe exists exclusively here on earth. I think that in itself is reason enough to protect our environment and the animals living here as best we can. If we continue to treat this planet the way we currently are, it will have a catastrophic impact upon each and every one of us."
"It's possible, John argues, to reduce your carbon impact on the planet by making relatively small changes to your life." He cites the example of the meat industry, particularly beef production, which research shows produces more greenhouse gas emissions than transport. "The easiest way we can significantly cut down our impact" he tells us, "is to try and transition to a plant based diet. Even simply substituting chicken for beef goes a long way."
How else does he try to live sustainably? "I spend about half of my time overseas at the moment, so my garden has been neglected a fair bit over the last few years. But, when I can, I still try to grow a lot of my own food, mostly cucumbers and tomatoes as they grow quite well in the temperate New Zealand climate. Any food you grow yourself cuts down on the carbon dioxide caused by transporting food from a farm to the store to your table."
Living in a throw-away society also has a huge impact on the natural world, John says. Tons of unnecessary packaging and cheap, poorly made objects are thrown away every day but we can do our bit to minimise this. Just drinking from a reusable stainless steel drink bottle instead of plastic one or taking your own reusable bags to the supermarket can make a difference. We should also try to buy quality products that will last a long time rather than cheap ones that need to be replaced regularly. Online resources and communities where people share their knowledge about buy for life items are a great place to find out more.
Growing your own vegetables or buying products with less packaging may seem a world away from life at the Polar Regions but the hope is that these small changes, together with pressure on governments and corporations to act with responsibility towards the planet, will have a positive effect on life at the Poles and beyond. John is set for more Arctic and Antarctic expeditions and hopes that we can all continue to wonder at these incredible habitats for many years to come.