The Vertical Forest of Milan


Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) is a pair of residential towers in the Porta Nuova district of Milan, Italy, between Via Gaetano de Castillia and Via Federico Confalonieri near Milano Porta Garibaldi railway station. They have a height of 110 metres (360 ft) and 76 metres (249 ft) and will host more than 900 trees (approximately 550 and 350 trees in the first and second towers respectively) on 8,900 square metres (96,000 sq ft) of terraces. Within the complex is also an 11-story office building; its facade does not host plants.

The towers were designed by Boeri Studio (Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra). It also involved input from horticulturalists and botanists.

The building was inaugurated in October 2014.


The project was designed as part of the rehabilitation of the historic district of Milan between Via De Castillia and Confalonieri. It consists of two residential towers of which the largest is 26 floors and 110 meters high (called Torre E) and the smaller tower is 18 floors and 76 meters high (called Torre D). It contains 400 condominium units priced from 3,000 – 12,000 Euro per square metre.

It is called Bosco Verticale because each tower houses trees between three and six meters which help mitigate smog and produce oxygen. It is also used to moderate temperatures in the building in the winter and summer. The plants also attenuate noise. The design was tested in a wind tunnel to ensure the trees would not topple from gusts of wind. Botanists and horticulturalists were consulted by the engineering team to ensure that the structure could bear the load imposed by the plants. The steel-reinforced concrete balconies are designed to be 28 cm thick, with 1.30 metre parapets.


The construction of the towers began in late 2009 and early 2010, involving 6,000 onsite construction workers. Between mid-2010 and early 2011 construction progressed very slowly and the towers rose by only five floors while the core rose to the seventh floor. Construction progressed throughout 2011, and by the beginning of 2012 the structures were completed, and construction of the facades and installation of the plants began on 13 June 2012. The building was inaugurated in October 2014.

On April 11, 2012, one of the buildings was used as a temporary art gallery and opened to the public for an art exhibition hosted during Milan Fashion Week.

The two buildings have 730 trees (480 large, 250 small), 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 perennials and ground cover on its facades. The original design had specified 1,280 tall plants and 920 short plants encompassing 50 species. Overall, the vegetation is the equivalent of that found in a one hectare woodlot. The innovative use of heat-pump technology is helping to slash heating and cooling costs.


On November 19, 2014, Bosco Verticale won the International Highrise Award, prestigious international competition bestowed every two years, honouring excellence in recently constructed buildings that stand a minimum of 100 meters (328 feet) tall. The five finalists were selected from 26 nominees in 17 countries.

On the 12th of November 2015, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Awards Jury selected Bosco Verticale, Milan, as the overall “2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide” at the 14th Annual CTBUH International Best Tall Building Awards Symposium, Ceremony & Dinner, celebrated at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago.

Gardeners rappel down ropes








Welcome to the jungle: plants overrun Chinese apartment blocks

Living in a home surrounded by greenery is on every person’s wish list, but someone very clearly said, ‘be careful what you wish for’. An experimental green housing project in a Chinese megacity had residents overjoyed with the fact that they have their own thriving green patch to live around. This complex is Chengdu’s Qiyi City Forest Garden that takes pride in standing tall as a vertical forest. All of the 826 apartments were sold out by April of 2020. The apartment highlight is the balcony area that’s fitted with as many as 20 types of plants that provide lush greenery and filters air and noise pollution too.

In only a matter of a few months, this Chinese complex went from eco-paradise to veritable hell. The apartments that are left unoccupied by tenants have been occupied by hoards of pesky insects that have completely ruined the facade of the building making it look like a desolate, run-down facility. The infestation of mosquitoes has kept tenants away and only about 10 families have moved in. The remaining eight towers of 30 floors each have been overrun by their own plants causing the mosquito invasion. What could be a vision in green if pruned and cared for properly is seen rotting in neglected balconies, with branches hanging over railings all over the towers making them look nightmarish so much that some plants have completely swallowed some balconies?

Chengdu is one of the major cities in China with a severe smog problem. This vertical forest idea was a way of combating everyday battles that comes with air and noise pollution but guess mosquitoes didn’t feature in the scheme of things. The project developer said in response that they will provide maintenance four times a year and will also step up pest control efforts.

Heatwaves, drought and wildfires in Europe

Temperatures across Europe have caused governments to issue health warnings.

Portugal, Spain and France have seen temperatures rise well above 40C (104F), and in the UK, the government has issued an extreme weather notice.

Experts say heatwaves and droughts are becoming more frequent and extreme because of climate change.

A handout photo made available by the communication department of the Gironde Fire brigade SDIS33 shows firemen fighting a forest fire in Belin-Beliet, in the Gironde region of southwestern France, 9 August 2022 - issued 10 August 2022.
In south west France, more than 1,000 firefighters have been battling a massive wildfire near Bordeaux, for a third day, as blistering temperatures continue to rise.
Forest fire around the town of Hostens, France, on August 10, 2022. Many villages were evacuated, such as Saint-Magne, Mano, Belin-Beliet, Moustey and Saugnac-et-Muret, and the A63 highway were also closed.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as dozens of properties and large areas of forest are destroyed.
Forest fire around the town of Hostens, France, on August 10, 2022.
The fire in the Gironde region, is one of several major blazes burning in France.
Dried out ground in a park, following a long period of little rainfall and hot weather, in St Albans, England.
An amber extreme heat warning has come into force in the UK, with temperatures forecast to hit 37C (99F) in some parts over the next four days. Many parks and fields have dried out following a long period of little rainfall.
A general view of a dried out grass outfield during a T20 Last Man Stands cricket match between MK Stallions (batting) and MK Super Kings cricket clubs, in Milton Keynes, Britain, 10 August 2022.
A cricket match between MK Stallions and MK Super Kings went ahead in the middle of a dried outfield in Milton Keynes, England.
Dried mud and old trees at Colliford Lake, where water levels have severely dropped exposing the unseen trees and rocks on 10 August 2022.
Water levels have severely dropped, exposing the unseen trees and rocks at Colliford Lake, a reservoir on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, England.
A water reservoir is seen with low water levels at Walthamstow Wetlands in London, Britain, 10 August 2022.
Low water levels are seen at the reservoir at Walthamstow Wetlands in London. Thames Water, which operates London’s water supply, plans to introduce hosepipe ban in order to save water.
The sun rises above the London skyline, as a second heatwave is predicted for parts of the country, in London, Britain, 11 August 2022.
The sun rises above the London skyline. The heatwave will likely affect health, transport and working conditions.
A bare tree in a parched Hyde Park on a scorching day in London, 10 August 2022
The current warning follows the driest July for England since 1935. A bare tree stands in a parched Hyde Park in London, England.
Bottles of water are stacked on the village green following a loss of domestic water supply on 10 August 2022 in the village of Northend near Henley-on-Thames, England.
Bottles of water are stacked on the village green following a loss of domestic water supply in the village of Northend, near Henley-on-Thames, England.
Cows eat straw and grass silage which is normally a winter feed at a farm in Harpole, near Northampton, Britain, 10 August 2022.
Cows eat straw and grass silage which is normally a winter feed at a farm in Harpole, near Northampton, England. The cows have been on the supplementary food since the start of August due to hot, dry weather and lack of grass.
Grass turned yellow due to dry conditions in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, Scotland, 10 August 2022.
Large areas of grass have turned yellow due to the dry conditions in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) issued a ‘very high’ risk of wildfires alert across southern and eastern Scotland with long, dry sunny spells expected over the coming days.
Cantref Reservoir in in Nant-Ddu, Cwm Taf, Brecon Beacons Powys, Wales, which is owned by Welsh Water, photographed from a drone which shows how low the water level has dropped.
Cantref Reservoir in Nant-Ddu, in the Brecon Beacons. The area is normally one of the wettest in the UK and supplies Cardiff and large parts of South Wales with water.
Boats are lying in the mud in the marina Beusichem, Netherlands, 10 August 2022
Boats lie in the mud in the marina at Beusichem, Netherlands. The drought and low water level has caused problems in the Lek and many other rivers.
People walk near boat houses on the banks of the Waal River on August 10, 2022 in Nijmegen, Netherlands.
People walk near boat houses on the banks of the Waal River in Nijmegen, Netherlands. The ongoing drought has cut operation capacities by half along the lower Rhine from Rotterdam to Germany.
A cargo ship travels on the Rhine on August 10, 2022 in Bonn, Germany.
A ship travels on the Rhine in Bonn, Germany despite low water levels. Cargo ships are currently unable to travel with full loads, driving up shipping prices.
A dead fish lies on the cracked ground of La Vinuela reservoir during a severe drought in La Vinuela, near Malaga, southern Spain.
A dead fish lies on the cracked ground of La Vinuela reservoir during a severe drought in La Vinuela, near Malaga, southern Spain.
A view of the Roman camp Aquis Querquennis, located on the banks of the Limia river in the As Conchas reservoir, in Ourense, Spain, 10 August 2022.
A view of the Roman camp Aquis Querquennis, located on the banks of the Limia river in the As Conchas reservoir, in Ourense, Spain. The camp is usually submerged but is exposed due to the low water level.
The river under the Ponte di Sant'Agostino di Padova, Padua
Northern Italy is battling its worst drought in 70 years, with the government recently declaring a state of emergency in five regions due to a lack of rain and sweltering temperatures. The river under the Ponte di Sant’Agostino di Padova, Padua, has almost run dry.
A view of the Magra river, which is at an all-time low, in Liguria.
The Magra river, which is at an all-time low, originates in Tuscany from Mount Borgognone and flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea at Bocca di Magra, in Liguria.
A tributary of the Bacchiglione di Padova, with the Specola in the background, Padua, Italy.
A tributary of the Bacchiglione di Padova, with the Specola in the background.
A water bomber helicopter is mobilized on a major forest fire near the town of Romeyer in south-east France.
A water bomber helicopter is mobilised on a major forest fire that broke out near the town of Romeyer in south-east France. The fire has destroyed more than 225 hectares of forest.
Some dried grapes are pictured in Wettolsheim, north-eastern France, on 10 August 2022.
Grapes wither on the vine in Wettolsheim, north-eastern France.
A sunflower field is seen near D'Huison-Longueville as a historical drought hits France, 8 August 2022.
France’s worst drought since records began has caused crops to shrivel.


In pictures: Hot weather sweeps across UK

Photographs from the day when high temperatures are forecast across the UK, with London set to be one of the hottest places in the world.

The sun rises in Mevagissey Harbour in Cornwall
The Sun rises in Mevagissey Harbour, in Cornwall, on the day UK temperatures could hit 41C.
Fishermen in the early morning light
Nearby, fishermen are out to land an early catch.
People preparing to enter the water in Penzance, Cornwall
In Penzance, Cornwall, swimmers took to the water just after sunrise.
A home in Berkshire with it's front window covered
A homeowner covers the front windows to try to keep out the sunshine.
Cracked footpath
A country path in Dunsden, Oxfordshire, is dry and cracked because of the lack of rain in the recent hot spell.
Bolivian squirrel monkey
A newborn Bolivian squirrel monkey keeps cool at Chessington Zoo, in Surrey.
Horticulture student Muhammed Ismail Moosa waters the plants in the Palm House at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew
At the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in south-west London, horticulture student Muhammed Ismail Moosa waters the plants in the Palm House.
Paddle boarders in Bristol
Paddleboarders make the most of the cooler morning, in Bristol.
A police horse is given water from a bucket
Police horse Zorro drinks water from a bucket on Whitehall, in central London.
Mother and daughter beside a pond
Joanne Dunwell and her eight-month-old daughter stay cool in the ponds in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh.
A member of the Queen's Guard receives water to drink
A soldier of the Queen’s Guard is given drinking water outside Buckingham Palace, in central London.
Woman's feet in a river
A woman keeps cool by dipping her feet in the River Thames near Chertsey, in Surrey.
Women on a punt on the River Cam
Visitors to Cambridge take to the River Cam.
Mother and daughter outside their front door
Jasmine Bowers with her daughter, who is eating a lollipop outside their home in north Belfast.
Assistant horticulturist Katie Martyr at a weather station
Assistant horticulturist Katie Martyr checks the readings for the previous 24 hours on Monday morning at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, which previously recorded the UK’s highest temperature of 38.7C (101F ) in July 2019.
Beekeepers at work
Elsewhere at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, beekeepers check on the beehives. They add extra water pots and place cardboard on top of the hives to help mitigate the impact of extreme heat.
People swim in the tidal pool during hot weather at Perranporth Beach in Cornwall
People swim in the tidal pool at Perranporth Beach in Cornwall.
A person standing under a water sprinkler outside Queen Elizabeth II Centre in central London
A woman keeps cool beside a water sprinkler outside Queen Elizabeth II Centre in central London.
People in a paddling pool in a park
People sit in a children’s paddling pool which was filled by a council parks vehicle in central London.
People walk in the sun in Greenwich Park
A man walks in the sun in Greenwich Park on what is already the hottest day of the year across the UK.


Sodbusters and Muddy Water

Workers laying down sod. I did this decades ago and it is extremely hard work. Avoid it at all costs.

River walk in Winnipeg finally above water. Covered in mud. Now wait for the cleanup.

Two trees that were leaning for the last few years were completely tipped over by this years flood waters.

Trees before. Two on the left.

Present day.

River banks look almost tropical. All the rain and hot weather is making plants thrive this year.

Homeless tent camp. The explosion of homeless people in North America has to be addressed.

Assiniboine River Ice Flow

This post was blogged in 2018. This year there has been substantially more snow in Manitoba. So something more intense could be on the horizon. Updates on the way.

The Assiniboine and Red river watersheds.


The big melt is underway in Manitoba. The Assiniboine River has substantially risen in the last few days. The current is hauling the broken ice on the Assiniboine into the Red River in downtown Winnipeg.


Crystal like ice that looks pretty cool



Above, the western Himalaya spot where the Ganges begins, at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers.

From May to December, a female-led Nat Geo expedition team traveled the length of India’s holiest river, from sea to source, to get an unprecedented view of plastic pollution in a watershed–and ultimately, how to solve it.

As visual storytellers, immersive producer Veda Shastri and photographer and Nat Geo Explorer Sara Hylton depicted a complex and nuanced portrait of the Ganges—the dependence on both the river and plastic for people who live alongside it; their utmost respect and love for it; and their relative powerlessness at changing the structures that lead to plastic pollution.

“It was eye-opening seeing how dependent and integrated with the river the communities were—the spiritual component has a sanctity regardless of the levels of pollution,” Veda tells me. “It is truly a life source—for everyday sustenance.”

For Veda, the end of the 2019 journey, published in the April issue of National Geographic, is what stays with her. As they traveled upstream, the team witnessed a marked reduction in the level of pollution, and by the time they reached the city of Rishikesh, they were able to get a more unadulterated view of the Ganges.

“Incredible to witness that magic,” she says.

Fishing amid the trash: Fisherman Babu Sahni, 30, and his eight-year-old son, Himanshu Kumar Sahni, approach a bank on a Ganges tributary. Trash collection is rare in rural India, and ad hoc dump sites like this one are common. Most plastic waste in the ocean gets there by washing off the land.

Before the goddess is submerged: Celebrants transport a likeness of the goddess Durga through the streets of Howrah, near Kolkata, during the Durga Puja festival. It ends with the immersion of the idols in a tributary of the Ganges.

A personal interest in a cleaner river: Swami Shivanand Saraswati, 75, bathes in the Ganges at his Matri Sadan ashram in Haridwar. He leads a long-running and ambitious campaign to protect the river from mining, new dams, and pollution.

National Geographic

Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 winners revealed

Spanish photographer Antonio Aragón Renuncio has won Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 for his photo of a child sleeping inside a house destroyed by coastal erosion on Afiadenyigba beach in Ghana.

A child sleeps inside a derelict building on a beach in Ghana in 2019

The image, entitled The Rising Tide Sons, highlights the rising sea levels in West African countries, which are forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.

Mr Renuncio receives £10,000 prize money.

The Environmental Photographer Of The Year competition, now in its 14th year, showcases some of the world’s most inspirational environmental photography.

The award celebrates humanity’s ability to survive and innovate and supports the calls to action in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The winners of this year’s competition were revealed at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

Here are other winning photos from the competition, with descriptions by the photographers.

Young Environmental Photographer of the Year: Inferno, by Amaan Ali, taken in Yamuna Ghat, New Delhi

A boy tries to stop an approaching forest fire in Yamuna Ghat, New Delhi, India

“A boy fighting fires in a forest near his home in Yamuna Ghat, New Delhi, India.”


The Resilient Award: Survive for Alive, by Ashraful Islam, taken in Noakhali, Bangladesh

An aerial view of sheep on a dry and cracked landscape

“Flocks of sheep search for grass amongst the cracked soil.

“Extreme droughts in Bangladesh have created hardships for all living beings.”


Sustainable Cities winner: Net-zero Transition – Photobioreactor, by Simone Tramonte, taken in Reykjanesbær, Iceland

A photobioreactor seen in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland

“A photobioreactor at Algalif’s facilities in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland, produces sustainable astaxanthin using clean geothermal energy.

Climate Action winner: The Last Breath, by Kevin Ochieng Onyango, taken in Nairobi, Kenya

A boy is seen wearing an oxygen mask attached to a plant, with a sand storm behind him

“A boy takes in air from the plant, with a sand storm brewing in the background, in an artistic impression of the changes to come.”


Water and Security winner: Green Barrier, by Sandipani Chattopadhyay, taken at Damodar river, West Bengal, India

An aerial view of a boat surrounded by algal blooms on the Damodar river in India

“Irregular monsoon seasons and droughts cause algal bloom on the Damodar river, India.

“Algal blooms prevent light from penetrating the surface and prevent oxygen absorption by the organisms beneath, impacting human health and habitats in the area.”


Environments of the Future winner: Flood, by Michele Lapini, taken at River Panaro, Nonantola, Modena, Italy

An aerial view of a house surrounded by flood water in the Po Valley

“A house is submerged by the flooding of the River Panaro in the Po Valley due to heavy rainfall and melting snow.”


Here are some of the shortlisted images in the competition.

Fishing in River, by Ashraful Islam, taken in Sirajgong, Bangladesh

People fish with nets in a river in Sirajgong, Bangladesh

“Algae accumulates and fills the whole river, then many boatmen come here to fish in the water.

“The river is filled with green moss.”


Drying Incense, by Azim Khan Ronnie, taken in Hanoi, Vietnam

Workers sit surrounded by thousands of incense sticks

“Vietnamese workers sit, surrounded by thousands of incense sticks in Quang Phu Cau, a village in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the sticks have been traditionally made for hundreds of years.

“Incense plays an important role in the spiritual lives of Vietnamese people.”

The Nemo’s Garden, by Giacomo d’Orlando, taken in Noli, Italy

Divers swim around underwater pods, which are an alternative system of agriculture

“The Nemo’s Garden represents an alternative system of agriculture especially dedicated to areas where environmental conditions make plant growth extremely difficult.

“This self-sustainable project aims at making underwater farming a viable eco-friendly solution to counteract the increasing climate-change pressures on our future.”


Environment Confined in Plastic, by Subrata Dey, taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh

A child sits on a ladder surrounded by plastic bottles at a plastic-recycling factory in Chittagong, Bangladesh

“I captured this picture from a plastic-recycling factory in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

“Plastic recycling helps protect the environment from plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”


Clean Energy, by Pedro de Oliveira Simões Esteves, taken in Serra de São Macário, Portugal

Wind turbines next to a misty mountainous area in Portugal

“Wind-energy turbines, moments before the sun sets over the mountains on a cloudy day.”


The Polygonal Forest, by Roberto Bueno, taken in Sierra de Béjar, Salamanca, Spain

An aerial view of a forest management technique in Sierra de Béjar, Salamanca, Spain

“A good management of forests is fundamental to contain climate change.

“This is a chestnut forest managed by wood owners in a sustainable way.

“They cut trees in polygonal areas and in the middle of them they leave smaller areas with trees that help the natural reforestation of the wood.”


These Gorgeous Underwater Photos Show Us What Life Is Like Under The Sea

“It’s heartbreaking in a way how much has been lost,” photographer David Doubilet told BuzzFeed News. “In some ways the photos are all that’s left, which is also a little crazy to think about.”

The ocean may truly be the final frontier — despite a long maritime history, we have only just begun to explore the waters that cover 70% of the globe. What lies beneath the surface, as opposed to at the edge of the horizon, has been a constant source of fascination for David Doubilet, a longtime underwater photographer.

Over the course of 50 years with National Geographic, Doubilet has pioneered the split-frame image showing both above and below the water’s surface in a single frame. His work examines the connection between the two worlds, proving a remarkable insight into the impact that humans have on a realm we know little about. A collection of his favorites is now available in a new book, Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea, and he took the time to talk with us about what it’s like to shoot film underwater and why these pictures matter so much now.

David Doubilet

Gentoo and chinstrap penguins on an ice floe near Danko Island, Antarctica

How did this get started?

What I love about this is that the surface of the sea is the most important border on our planet. It divides the air world, the known world where we all live, and the water world, which, up till the last 75 years or so, has been something of a mystery. Underwater photographers really have been trying to connect people with the ocean.

These half-and-half images are my favorite images to make. It began with a vision that I had when I was around 9 years old, swimming around the jetty of the Ocean Beach Club in New Jersey. I would swim with my head above the water and see the lifeguard blowing his whistle at me, screaming. I’d see people on the beach, I’d see clouds passing by. I’d see a whole different world. And I put my head just below and here’s a silent, welcoming world full of shafts and green light and fish hiding beneath the boulders of the jetty, waving seaweeds, groups of passing fish. It was the boundary of Two Worlds.

Fast forward to a five-decade-long career as an underwater photographer and storyteller for National Geographic magazine. It’s been an incredible partnership that has provided the perspective of time in the sea and a platform to show the world these pictures, and at the same time, promoting curiosity, exploration, discovery, and creativity. When I began working underwater, I thought the oceans were infinite… I was wrong; they are fragile and finite. Over time, the story coverages started with discovery, and now we are circling back to conserving those discoveries — something I did not expect in my lifetime.

A part of the storytelling is to find an image that distills a sense of place in one frame. For me, that image is the half-and-half image — the one that connects the surface to the hidden world below. It is a joy to look for and make these photographs. Not every assignment produces a half-and-half picture, but I scout for them endlessly. Some succeed and some do not. I like the artistic and technical challenge of making them.

Lion’s mane jellyfish drifting in the shallow bays of Bonne Bay Fjord located in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada

Can you talk about that a little?

You have to use a camera with a super wide-angle lens and large round dome in the front, which corrects for the magnification of water. This original concept and design can be attributed to National Geographic photographer Bates Littlehales.

The first challenge: to light for the underwater half using submerged strobes. The next hurdle is focus in both surface and subsurface worlds. Shooting at highest f-stop helps accomplish this. And then there are the dreaded water droplets. There are always unwanted droplets that will appear in the image right where you do not want them to. You can rinse the camera dome repeatedly, use Rain-X, your own spit, a potato — yes, a potato — or in my case, I use toothpaste wiped on the dome and rinsed off. But by far the biggest challenge of all is finding that place that tells a story about two worlds in one frame.

You learned to photograph underwater on film, and you still encourage photographers learning to dive to start with black and white. Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like working underwater?

First of all, before digital, you had 36 exposures, and that’s it. That’s all you got [on a roll of film]. No one in their right mind would go underwater right now with a card that has only 36 pictures.

Number two, underwater, you can’t change lenses. And number three, you can’t see what you’re shooting, which is the most important. As my friend Jay Maisel would say, you shoot as much as you can, because paranoia pays. And finally, there’s focus, you know, everything underwater is one-third larger. So that’s what these big domes correct, and that’s what some of the special wide-angle lenses correct for.

With technology now, you get moments that you couldn’t get before. When you’re underwater, a lot of things happen with color. First of all, red disappears in literally a foot of water. If you go diving, a red shirt is red in the first foot of water; by like 10 feet, it’s kind of a maroon, by 60 feet, that red is black. And this is in clear, beautiful Caribbean or mid-Pacific water. So to restore the spectrum, you can now take down a strobe — we call it a bottle of sunlight — and you illuminate the side of a reef system. A black sponge then turns out to be brilliant crimson.

You have to be careful shooting — you just don’t want to tramp on everything — but the closer you are to something, the more brilliant the pictures are.

As far as marine mammals go, they’re in charge, they’ll either accept you or reject you. You’re not gonna scare a whale away because you’re in the water. The whale is gonna move and leave or they’ll come right by you and ignore you. Or the whale will look in your eye. I’ve had a turtle basically follow me all over, over a reef system, so much so that he would put his flippers around my tank and look over my shoulder, and it’s me and the turtle.

David Doubilet

The rich lily forest tumble beneath a dense canopy of papyrus in the deepwater Nxamaseri Channel of the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

That’s amazing. Can you talk a little bit about why this vision of above and below is particularly important now?

We are in a time and a place on this planet where everything is changing. It’s not just climate change that is affecting the oceans… there is overharvest, habitat destruction, and coral disease. We are at a crossroads, a time where we have to stop talking and start doing. I really just have a single goal: Connect people to the sea.

I mentioned before that the best thing that National Geographic has given me is the perspective of time in the sea. It’s the most valuable thing that I can imagine. I decided to put that to work.

As an example, it occurred to me that after five decades in the sea as a journalist, I have an archive that is basically the ocean through the lens of time. We now know that corals are a thermometer for the oceans and that temperatures are rising, causing loss of corals around the planet… But what does that really look like? I decided to go into my archives to locate healthy reef pictures and return to that exact same spot on the reef after severe coral bleaching events. I returned to the Great Barrier Reef and Guam. The mission was to create powerful pairs of before and after coral bleaching images that show a healthy reef then and coral cemeteries now… pairings that wake people up. Tumon Bay, Guam, appears in the book. We photographed there in 2005 and came back and photographed in 2017 after three years of coral bleaching. Coral bleaching happens when heat causes stress that in turn causes the coral to expel beneficial algae that also gives coral nutrients and its color. The triple bleaching event in Guam was extreme and the coral did not survive. The effect is alarming.

A sargassum canopy of macroalgae in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda. The sargassum weed canopy acts as a nursery for countless marine creatures that need cover and protection from predation.

Can you talk a little bit about how diving has changed over the last 50 years? Like there’s obviously been bleaching events, but then are there other elements that have changed either in terms of technology or in terms of what you’re seeing?

The reefs have changed wildly in the [past] 50 years or even 60 years. I first saw a coral when my father took me down to the Bahamas when I was 12 years old. The coral reef was made up of these great forests of elkhorn coral, which is brown, wonderful-looking coral [that’s] kind of almost the redwoods of a good coral world. And beneath that waft endless schools of fish, and throughout the Caribbean, that’s what it used to look like. Now 90% of the elkhorn has vanished throughout its range.

But there are a few places where it hangs on and even thrives: The Gardens of the Queen, an archipelago 50 miles off the southern coast of Cuba where it survives because of a wonderful combination of geopolitics and geography. Fidel Castro had a great interest in the sea because he was a diver and he had foresight to preserve some areas. Now this corner of the Caribbean off Southern Cuba is a time capsule in the sea.

Yes, we must tell the hard truths about the challenges, but there is hope and resilience. Some corals survive the coral bleaching to reproduce, creating more heat-tolerant corals. We see effective conservation measures with the creation of Marine Protected Areas, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and National Parks. We see shark sanctuaries like the Bahamas and Palau, where sharks are celebrated and considered valuable to both the economy and the environment.

Can you talk a little bit about how geopolitics and the ocean interact?

We have seen the greatest conservation wins where the conservation involves the community. They are sometimes called community-based marine protected areas, and we see them functioning very well in some areas of the Coral Triangle: the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.

In some areas, it comes down to aggressive protection from poaching through eyes on remote reefs 24/7/365. An example of this is the Philippines’ coral crown jewel: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. Remote atolls in the center of the Sulu Sea. Accessible to diving tourists for only a few months, rangers reside on the reef 365 days a year guarding against poaching.

It’s heartbreaking in a way how much has been lost. Um, and in some ways the photos are all that’s left, which is also a little crazy to think about.

Final thoughts?

When I began diving, every dive was a voyage of discovery. It still is. Every time I go on the water, it’s still something exciting. However, now we are documenting the time in a place, and it may disappear. So it’s different; we’re also hopefully celebrating places that are going to be successful. As a journalist, this is telling the most important story on a planet and is ongoing. The greatest show on Earth is Earth itself.

Yes, the oceans are in trouble and our individual choices collectively make a big difference. We all rely on the sea for oxygen and other resources… we are stakeholders, and we should protect what is at stake whether we live on the coast or inland. I see incredible hope in #NextGenOcean and collaboration.

This book documents the largest, most important border on the planet… the surface of the sea. It is an invitation to know, understand, and protect the other 71% of planet Earth…

As the oceans go, so do we.

A fisher with his young son in an outrigger from a village on the Willaumez Peninsula on New Britain Island, Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea.