Aerial photo tour across countries and continents with a French photographer Yan Arthus-Bertrand [32 photos total]

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1
“Love Parade” in Tiergarten Park, Berlin, Germany (52°31’ N, 13°21’ E).

In 1989, shortly before the fail of the Berlin Wall, a Berlin disk jockey named Dr. Motte brought together 150 fans of electronic music for a modest street party in name of "tolerance, respect, and mutual understanding". The "Love Parade", now an enormous festival, draws over a million people together every year to dance to the beat of techno music from some fifty carnival floats. The centre of the parade is the Siegessäule (Victory Column, also known as the Angel) in the middle of Tiergarten Park. Such gatherings are increasingly popular throughout the world: the Love Parade has been imitated in Paris, Zurich, Geneva and Newcastle, and one was even planned for Moscow in 2001, but the mayor's office cancelled it. Sometimes misunderstood - many confuse it with the "Lesbian & Gay Pride Parade", founded in 1997 - or criticized by Berlin ecologists because of the mountain of trash it creates it was eventually for financial reasons that the Love Parade was unable to celebrate its fifteenth birthday in 2004. Cancelled again in 2005, it was revived with success in 2006, since 1.2 million people took part in it. Since 2007, the Love Parade no longer takes place in Berlin but is itinerant each year in the cities of the industrial region of the Ruhr. #
2
Satellite dishes, city of Aleppo, Syria (36°13’ N, 37°10’ E).

Aleppo, one of the oldest towns in the world, has not escaped « modernity ». A forest of parabolic antennas picks up television programs from all over the world, relayed from space by satellites in geostationary orbit, a high orbit 36.000 km above the Earth. Television is now one of the most popular mediums in the world. It is not necessary to know how to read and write to watch a program. This makes television very accessible. Just over 40% of 22 million Syrians have parabolic antennas; 9,9 million own a mobile phone and 4,4 million are internet users, although it is controlled and sensored by authorities. In the past year, while the population, as others in the region, was fighting against the dictatorial regime, information was still circulating in the country and abroad. Images showing demonstrations, violent repression and violations of human rights were widely spread. Civilian deaths reached thousands. There is no doubt that if theses events occurred 20 years earlier, they would have happened behind closed doors, as happened in 1982 at Hama’s massacre. That year, the Syrian army repressed with blood shed (between 7.000 and 35.000 people were killed, according to sources) the demonstrations of the city dwellers. At the time, theses events where hardly covered by the media because Syria’s borders were closed and the media under strict survailance. #
3
Palm Jumeirah artificial island, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (25°07’ N, 55°08’ E)

Fifty years ago, Dubai was nothing more than a few rammed-earth houses, a souk and a port for the dhows sailing the Arab-Persian Gulf and the Oman Gulf. Enriched by the oil revenues of the neighbouring emirates, the State now develops its economy on tourism and has launched the construction of artificial islands. Of the three islands currently being created, palm-shaped Palm Jumeirah, the smallest, is attached to the mainland by a bridge. It consists of a 2 km long “trunk” from which grows 17 “palm leaves” with villas. An underwater tunnel links the extremity of the island to an 11 kilometres-long crescent, which will host luxurious hotels. Launched in 2001, the construction cost almost 12 billion dollars, and is now almost completely finished despite the financial crisis in 2009 that almost made the Emirates go bankrupt. In order to create the island, nearly 94 million cubic metres of sand have been dredged from the sea floor and 40.000 workers were mobilised. This technical prowess achieved by Dutch engineers specialised in construction on water could not have been possible without the massive use of imported labour. Of the 1.8 million people living in Dubai, 80% are underpaid migrant workers. In this non democratic citystate where the Unions are forbidden, and more generally in the United Arab Emirates, Human Rights Watch has qualified their working conditions as «less than human». #
4
Fields of tulips near Lisse, near Amsterdam, Netherlands (52°05’ N, 4°42’ E).

Every year in spring, the Dutch countryside briefly dons a multicolored garb. Since the first flowering in 1594 of bulbs brought back from the Ottoman Empire by the Austrian ambassador, four centuries of selection have led to the development of more than 800 varieties of tulips. The region around Lisse assumes a commercial production of bulb crops. On more than 58.000 acres (23.500 hectares), the Netherlands produce 65 percent of the world production of flowering bulbs (or some 10 billion bulbs). But this success has been obtained at a high environmental price: in the 1990s, Dutch pesticide usage was the highest in Europe. Both the public and private sectors have therefore signed agreements regulating the use of chemical products, waste and energy, and farmers have begun to make use of natural predators to protect their crops. Similar environmentally conscious initiatives are happening worldwide; in several Canadian cities, as well as in the town of Rennes, in France, local councils have prohibited the use of chemical pesticides in public parks. #
5
Karymsky volcano erupting, Kamchatka, Russia (54°05’N, 159°43’E).

A mountainous peninsula of volcanic origin at Siberia’s far eastern end, Kamchatka is a place apart in the Russian Federation. It is remote from the capital—by more than 3,700 miles (6,000 km)—and the Russian authorities have done little to encourage its development since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Yet Kamchatka plays a part in Russian economic life, thanks to its forest and agricultural resources, the development of its coastal towns, and its fisheries. The population is concentrated in the towns and consists largely of Russians, who mingle with older residents such as the Kamchadales. These nomads, also known as Itelmens, have retained their traditional way of life and live chiefly from fishing. Only about 18,000 are thought to remain of a people who were once the most numerous on the peninsula. #
6
Confluence of the río Uruguay and a tributary, Misiones province, Argentina (27°09’ S, 53°56’ W).

Drastically cleared to make way for farming, the tropical rainforest of Argentina is now in some areas a less effective defense against erosion than it was in the past. The heavy rains in the province of Misiones (79 inches, or 2,000 mm, per year) wash the soil and carry off significant quantities of iron-rich earth into the Río Uruguay, turning the waters a dark, reddish ocher. Carried by the river, this sediment is dumped in the estuary of the Río de la Plata—the largest on Earth—and accumulates in the access channels to the port of Buenos Aires. In 1997, to combat the sanding-up of the estuary and the pollution generated by the city, the Argentinean government and local authorities set up the EcoPlata project for the ecological and economic management of the estuary. #
7
The Nazca astronaut, Ica, Peru (14°50’ S, 74°60’ W).

This is one of the mysterious, gigantic figures drawn on the pampas of San José and on some of the hillsides of the Rio Grande valley, between Palpa and Nazca. More than 386 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) of the rocky desert still bear the signs of Nazca culture, dating from the first to the sixth centuries ad. The animal figures, parallel or intersecting lines, and geometric shapes of these Nazca geoglyphs are formed by the contrast between the land surface, which is brown because it contains iron oxide, and the yellowish, sandy subsoil. They have survived thanks to the dry climate and low rainfall. Together, these drawings make up a calendar that allows the observation of certain astronomical phenomena, such as the solstices, but the meaning of the figures themselves, taken in isolation, remains a mystery. They certainly have some ritual or ceremonial significance. They might be a great prayer, an invocation to the gods made at the time of the severe drought of 550 AD. For this ancient people of astronomers and hydraulic engineers, as for us today, water was more precious than gold. #
8
Village on stilts in Tongkil, Samales Islands, Philippines (6°04’ N, 121°47’ E).

The southern Philippines, and particularly the Sulu Archipelago that includes the Samales Islands, are home to the Badjaos. Known as “sea gypsies”, they fish and gather shellfish and pearl oysters and live in villages on stilts, such as the one seen here. A channel carved in the coral reef allows them to reach the open sea. The Badjaos belong to the Philippines’ Muslim minority, which makes up 5 percent of the population in a country of catholic majority, where they have long been discriminated against. Though the area’s exceptional nature is ideal for tourism, the industry is having trouble developing due to armed communist insurrections and Muslim separatist movements based in the south of the country. These conflicts have rocked the Philippine Islands since the early 1970s and have caused 120.000 casualties in three decades. Talks and ceasefires alternate with periods of violence in this country where 40 percent of the population lives beneath the poverty threshold, birthrate is among the highest in Asia and the economy depends heavily on the diaspora. #
9
El Ateuf, M’Zab Valley, Algeria (32°27’ N, 3°44’ E).

Some 370 mi (600 km) south of Algiers, beyond the peaks of the Saharan Atlas, pink-rendered cities with narrow covered alleys sit in the soft light along Wadi M’Zab, which twists and turns through the plateaus along the Grand Erg Occidental, a sea of sand. The climate is harsh, hot and windy, and rain extremely rare. But these cities, established by the Mozabite people in the eleventh century, are marvels which have always astonished the great architects—Le Corbusier, André Ravereau, Frank Lloyd Wright. Extraordinarily cohesive, the cities of Wadi M’Zab are all built on a slope to escape rare but violent floods, and adhere to the same plan: homes are clustered around the mosque, which is at the city’s highest point, ramparts below. Palm groves provide fruits and vegetables and relief from waves of intense heat. Houses are organized around a main room, whose roof opens to a large square over the central patio where the family gathers. A staircase leads to the terrace, which is sometimes surrounded by small rooms in which the inhabitants sleep in winter. #
10
Yurts in the outskirts of Ulan Bator, Mongolia (47°55’ N, 106°53’ E).

As large as Spain, France, Portugal, and Germany put together, Mongolia has only 2.9 million inhabitants. Ulan Bator, its capital, is in the middle of the steppes, where 38 percent of the population is concentrated. Tens of thousands of nomadic cattle farmers are settling here, spurred by the desertification of the land where their animals once grazed or by exceptionally harsh winters. Indeed, from 1999 to 2002, Mongolia suffered an uninterrupted zud, the combination of summer and fall droughts and extreme winter conditions, and 40 percent of its herds were lost. Yesterday’s nomads set up their yurts near Ulan Bator, dotting the city’s outskirts with a vast shantytown of white tents. Living conditions are appalling in these areas. Given the scale of this phenomenon, the government forbids the keeping of horses and goats, and torn from their steppes and regular ways, populations are subject to alcoholism. The consensus is that the nomadic life may not survive to the next generation. #
11
Dovecotes at Mit Gahmur, Egypt (30°42’ N, 31°16’ E).

These dovecotes, which resemble lookout towers, are imitations of the rocky cliff faces that were home to wild pigeons before they were domesticated five thousand years ago. Initially raised for food, the pigeons came to be used as message carriers, on account of their determination to return to their home dovecotes. This talent was exploited not only by the Egyptians, but also by the Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Chinese. As late as the Second World War, 16,500 English pigeons were parachuted into France to bring back intelligence. The magnetic sensors the birds carry in their tissue helps them, much like a compass, to know their exact geographical position. Supplanted in our own time by telegraph, telephone, and satellite, pigeons are no longer used for communications. But there is still no shortage of pigeon fanciers–especially in Egypt, where the national dish is suffed pigeon. #
12
Drying corn on a highway near Cuicun, Beijin region, People’s Republic of China (40°21’ N, 116°34’ E).

In China, highways serve multiple functions. Used by motor vehicles, animal-drawn carts, cyclists, they can also become grain dryers. Over the past 30 years, the road network has been developed at an increasing rate. Today, it is close to 4 million kilometers long, nearly three times more than in 1978, putting China in second position behind the United States. Although the average number of vehicles per capita is much lower than the world average, China became in 2009 one of the biggest market for new cars, second after the United States. According to data from the Chinese National Office of Statistics, there were 100 million motor vehicles by the end of 2011, plus 119 million motorbikes and scooters. If the current growth is maintained, there will be more than 150 million cars by 2020. Since 1993, China has imported a great deal of oil. At present, China imports 55% of what it consumes. Because China is getting more and more dependent on the Middle East for its hydrocarbon supplies, this country that has become the second world consumer of oil tends to multiply its agreements with African oil producing countries. #
13
Dromedary caravan in the dunes, near Nouakchott, Mauritania (18°09’ N, 15°29’ W).

The Sahara, the largest sand desert in the world, is 9 million km2 wide (the equivalent of the United States) and is spread over eleven countries. On its Western border, Mauritania, three quarters of which is barren is particularly affected by anthropogenic desertification. Overgrazing and wood gathering for fire are gradually eliminating the vegetation that fastens the sand of the big dunes, making the progression of the sand threatening towns like Nouakchott easier. The capital which was erected on a grassy plain in 1960 several days walk away from the Sahara now has the desert at its door. Arid and semi-arid areas cover two thirds of the African continent and their fragile soil is deteriorating rapidly. During the past half-century, 65% of African arable land and 31% permanent pastures have thus been degraded. This has caused a decrease in crop yields and had repercussions on food security. In this vicious circle that is hard to break, poverty is both the cause and the consequence of the degradation of farmable land and the decrease in agricultural production. #
14
Modern graves in a cemetery at Asyut, Nile valley, Egypt (27°10’ N, 31°10’ E).

The idea of eternal life, so dear to the ancient Egyptians, is conveyed through a style of funerary architecture that stands the test of time. These tombs are divided into two sections, one representing the life of the deceased and the other containing the person's remains and the objects customarily regarded as making life in the hereafter more pleasant. The world of the living coexists with that of the dead, and cemeteries are close to towns. An Egyptian city of the dead can stretch over several kilometres and is laid out like a town, with a rich variety of open spaces and architecture. With the passage of time, the commingling of the worlds of the living and the dead becomes more obvious. A combination of deregulation of the rental market, a serious shortage of social housing, and evictions, with no system for compensation or finding alternative accommodation, have driven some people to live in cemeteries. In Cairo, a megalopolis of 16 million people, the famous City of the Dead is thought to accommodate between 500,000 and 1 million underprivileged people-at least 20,000 of whom are living in the tombs themselves. #
15
Church at the foot of the Paricutín volcano, San Juan Parangaricutiro, Michoacán, Mexico (19°32’ N, 102°15’ W).

The Transverse Volcanic Axis, which runs along the country’s southwestern coast, contains more than 300 volcanoes, the most recently formed being Paricutín, which rises to more than 9,100 feet (2,800 m). In February 1943, a Michoacán farmer noticed plumes of smoke rising from a field of maize, heralding the arrival of the volcano. Within a few months, a 1,500-foot (450-m) cone of volcanic ash had risen on the spot, and lava flows had engulfed the surrounding houses. The young volcano remained active for nine years without causing any casualties. However, of the hamlet of Paricutín, only the name survives—now given to the volcano—and all that remains of the village of San Juan Parangaricutiro is the church tower and nave, protruding from a bed of black, solidified lava. Visitors, tourists, and occasionally pilgrims—as here, on Easter eve—brighten this lunar landscape with their presence. Of Mexico’s population, 90 percent is Catholic, and religious festivals and rites play a dominant part in the country’s culture. The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico’s patron saint, and on her feast day, December 12, some 1,500 processions take place across the country, the biggest attracting up to 100,000 faithful. #
16
Allotments in the Avanchets estate, Geneva, Suisse (46°12’N, 6°09’E).

The first allotments in Europe were established at the end of the 19th century, to give workers the chance to improve their lot. The example was taken up in Switzerland as early as the First World War. Today, the 900,000 Swiss allotments cover 50,000 hectares, the equivalent of 3,000 medium sized farms. Worldwide, there are 800 million amateur farmers in built up areas. In estates in south eastern Asia and some towns in central and South America, many people depend on this activity for survival. It’s the same story in Europe; in Berlin there are more than 80,000 urban farmers, and in Russia more than 72% of all urban homes till their own patch of land, balcony or even roof. Urban agriculture is on the increase and there could be twice as many people enjoying it within twenty years. However in Switzerland, like everywhere else, urban soil is very polluted and there is a danger of it contaminating the fruit and vegetables grown there. #
17
Agricultural landscape near Cognac, Charente, France (45°42’ N, 0°13’ W).

Like most of the French vineyards in the 19th century, the Charente vineyard, a large French wine-producing region, was ravaged by phylloxera, an illness caused by a parasitic aphid. A great share of the vineyards in this region was replaced by cereal crops that still dominate the landscape. Nevertheless, vineyards have gradually been replanted around Cognac, where the production of liquor with the same name has kept increasing. The trebbiano (ugni blanc) that grows on chalky soil produces wine that is distilled twice. Eau-de-vie obtained like this undergoes extended ageing in oak barrels and this produces cognac. The stock currently being aged is the equivalent of over a billion bottles. This represents 6 years of sales. Only alcohol from this soil delimited by a decree since 1909 and divided into six growth areas can be called Cognac. It takes up just over 185.329 acres (75.000 hectares) and employs about 18.500 people: wine growers and distillers as well as all trades related to cork, glassmaking, cardboard and marketing. Only 3% of the production is consumed in France. In 2011, nearly 163 million bottles were exported to 158 countries, mainly to the United States, Singapore, China, the United Kingdom and Germany. #
18
Dairy cows passing between dunes, Maule province, Chile (35°47’ S, 72°33’ W).

The wind sweeps the volcanic dust inland. Its strength and consistency have made vast dune fields. Here, an oceanic climate showers the land with abundant moisture, allowing grass to grow rapidly and favoring livestock farming. Chile is known for its remarkable geography. It measures 2.608 miles (4.200 km) from north to south, stretching over 35 degrees of latitude, but is only 62 miles (100 km) wide at its narrowest point—and 250 miles (450 km) at its widest. The North of the country is extremely arid; the Chilean economy here is dominated by copper, iron ore and sulphur mining. Central Chile has a more Mediterranean climate and contains the biggest cities and associated industry, as well as farming, mainly fruits and vineyards. In the south, with its oceanic climate, fields give way to pasture, vast forests, and lakes until, gradually, the great glaciers of Patagonia take over. Chile’s territory ends at Cape Horn, at the far southern tip of South America, where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet. #
19
Flamingos on Lake Nakuru, Kenya (0°19’ S, 36°06’ E).

Lake Nakuru has a surface area of 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) and covers a third of the national park of the same name created in 1968. It is home to over 400 species of birds including Lesser Flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) and Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) of which there are 1.4 million on the site. Like other alkaline lakes along the Rift Valley, its location on a permeable volcanic substrate, its low water supply, its intense evaporation and its average depth of 3 feet (1 meter) explains the high sodium carbonate levels. These alkaline waters encourage the proliferation of blue-green algae, microorganisms and small crustaceans that make up most of what flamingos eat. However, the region’s deforestation, chemical products used in the adjacent fields and waste water from the nearby town of Nakuru, have gradually deteriorated the quality of the water to the detriment of the plant life, wildlife and neighboring population. Since 1990, Lake Nakuru has been considered an Internationally Important Wetland under the Ramsar Convention. #
20
Housing plots at Brøndby, on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Seeland, Denmark (55°34’ N, 12°23’ E).

To combine management of the available space with security and comfort, the building plots at Brøndby, on Copenhagen’s southwestern fringe, are arranged in perfect circles, in which each holder has a lot of 4,305 square feet (400 m2). This type of residential district, which is highly practical, is increasingly common on the outskirts of large cities where there are many jobs. The growth of industry, the attraction exerted by cities, and the expansion of large metroplexes have led to a 13-percent increase in the world’s city-dwellers—a trend that is continuing. Almost half the planet’s population, 45 percent, is now urban. By 2025, there will be twenty-five giant metroplexes—megalopolises—in the world, each home to between 8 million and 35 million people. Three-quarters of the other billion city dwellers the planet will accommodate in 2025 will live in southern countries. #
21
Olive groves near Sevilla, Andalusia, Spain (37°22’ N, 6°05’ W). #
22
Eroded iceberg in Unartoq Fjord, Greenland (60°28’ N, 45°19’ W).

Most of the icebergs drifting in Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea come from Greenland’s West coast. There are about 10.000 to 40.000 of them a year. Every spring and every summer, deep in the fjords, the glaciers calve. This means that as they move forward, the glaciers loosen blocks of ice because of the movements of the sea swell and the tides. Iceberg that must be more than 5m above the water to be worthy of the name (mountain of ice) travel and where they end up depends on the currents and winds. The biggest ones, with increasingly eroded shapes, will take two or three years and perhaps even longer to get off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. Some will even cross the 40th parallel south. One of these icebergs caused one of the biggest maritime disasters, the Titanic shipwreck, in 1912 that killed over 1.500 people. Greenland’s ice cap is the second largest in the world after the Antarctic continent. It was created by the accumulation of snow falling for over 100.000 years. It covers 82% of the big island and it is 3.000 m thick in places. If all this ice melted, the general level of seas would increase by about 7m. Because of global warming, Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at a rate of 248 km3 a year and scientific studies show that this phenomenon has sped up in the past ten years. #
23
Mount Fuji, Honshu, Japan (35°21’ N, 138°44’ E). #
24
Roman theater, Palmyra, Syria (34°33’ N, 38°16’ E). #
25
Pripiat, abandoned town near the Chernobyl nuclear power station, Ukraine (51°24’ N, 30°02’ E).

On April 26 1986, one of the Chernobyl power station’s reactors in Ukraine exploded and caused the largest civilian nuclear disaster of all time with the dispersion of radioactive material to the confines of Europe. The one hundred and twenty surrounding localities like Pripiat (50.000 inhabitants), 2 miles (3 kilometers) away from the epicenter were evacuated a little late. The exact number of victims is still unknown but it is estimated that several million people are suffering from illnesses linked to radiation (malformations, cancers immune deficiencies…). In December 2000, the power station’s last reactor was stopped for good, in exchange for 2.3 billion dollars worth of Western aid to build two new nuclear power stations completed in 2004. Classified as a level 7 event, just like Chernobyl, on the International Nuclear Event Scale that goes from 1 to 7, being 7 the most serious one, the series of accidents that affected four reactors at Japanese Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in March 2011, brought back the uncontrollable danger of nuclear energy. If the nuclea industry has the advantage of producing electricity emitting few greenhouse gases, it still has not resolved the problem of what to do with the long-lasting highly radioactive waste generated by the 435 reactors in operation in 2001, scattered over 35 countries. This waste is piling up in temporary storage facilities. #
26
The Athabasca Oil Sands, Fort Mac Murray, Alberta, Canada (57°01’ N, 111°38’ W).

Oil sands that have been exploited for about thirty years represent the second largest oil reserve in the world with an estimated potential of 173 billion barrels. To obtain one barrel of 159 litres of crude oil, one has to extract 2 tons of peat and soil and 2 tons of sand. Oil sands usually lie over 60 metres deep. Pits are dug and enormous trucks that can carry over 400 tons are used to take the oil sands to treatment plants. The water that is pumped in the river is used to separate the tar from the sand in large heated tanks. This tar is then turned into liquid oil before being sent, by pipeline, to supply North America. This titanic task is economically advantageous for the region.With the money from the oil, the population of the town very close to Fort McMurray has rapidly increased over the past few years. However, even if this wealth is advantageous for the province of Alberta, oil companies and the inhabitants, it is at the expense of the environment of us all. As the Boreal forest along the Athabasca River is destroyed, the soil is turned over and there is chemical residue and water contamination. The consequences of this environment exploitation are very serious. Despite the fluctuations of oil prices, extracting Alberta’s oil sands is still profitable and therefore seems set to continue unless the necessities of the fight against global warming come and put a stop to it. #
27
Yankee Stadium, New York City, United States (40°49’ N, 73°55’ W).

Standing in the heart of the Bronx, a poor area of New York City, Yankee Stadium has a meticulously maintained grass lawn. This famous ballpark, home to the New York Yankees, holds 55,000 spectators at baseball games. The national pastime was born in the United States just before 1850 and was soon professionalized. Practiced by more than 150 million players worldwide, which makes it the second most practiced sport after volley-ball (180 million players), baseball was first included in the Olympic Games in 1992. This universal sporting event took place in Beijing, China, in 2008, with athletes from 204 countries participating in 38 disciplines, and a total of 958 medals awarded. Although the 2008 Olympics once more brought together almost all the countries of the world, in the name of sports performance research, it did not erase the political disparities between them, regarding especially the trouble in Tibet, respect of environmental norms and the issue of media censorship in China. In late August 2008, the NGO Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) called on the International Olympic Committee for "respect for free expression to become one of the criteria when selecting cities to host the games". #
28
Tsingy of Bemaraha, area of Morondava, Madagascar (18°47’S, 45°03’E). #
29
Cotton harvesting around Banfora, Burkina Faso (10°48’ N, 3°56’ W).

In the south of Burkina Faso, near the Ivorian border, cotton parcels are next to subsistence crops. Cotton is still picked by hand which means that plants can only be one to two meters high. Once they are harvested, the fibres are gathered to form "balls" to be sold. They will most probably be sent to SOFITEX (Fibre and textile company) in Banfora. This region's climate is perfectly adapted to cotton farming which requires 700 mm of water and a minimum of 120 days of sunshine a year as well as a dry period to stop the fibre rotting before it matures. Burkina Faso is the largest cotton producer on the African continent and employs 3 million people including 2 million producers. The sector accounts for 25% of the GDP and 60% of the country's exports. This makes it vulnerable to world price fluctuations. After refusing GM cotton for years, the Burkinabé authorities officially allowed the crop in 2008 to ensure regular production. #
30
View of Venice, Veneto, Italy (45°25’ N, 12°45’ E).

Venice is an archipelago of 118 islands separated by 160 canals straddled by over 400 bridges located in the center of a lagoon separated from the sea by a barrier beach interspersed with three pedestrian bridges. Its main street, the Grand Canal, is lined with about a hundred palaces from the Renaissance and the baroque period built by rich Venetian merchants which show how important traders became when Venice opened up to the outside world. From the year 1000, the town imposed its supremacy on the Adriatic Sea, then on the whole Mediterranean Sea. It established manytrading posts there until the continental tides were supplanted by the maritime tides at the end of the 17th century. Venice then disappeared from the international commercial scene. Today, this disappearance could be complete: La Serenissima could disappear beneath the water. It has been flooded many times because some canals have been dredged deeper and larger, the Venetian ground is subsiding and sea levels are rising (by one fourth of an inch or 6 millimeters a year). As a result in the 20th century the lagoon average level has risen 23 cm. In 2002, an ambitious and costly project named Moses was adopted to close the passages that linked the sea to the lagoon. Around 80 mobile dikes should be installed and working in 2014, at a declared cost of 3.5 billion Euros. #
31
Village near lake Chad, Chad (13°23’ N, 14°05’ E).

On the islands in Lake Chad, the fishermen depend on the waters around them, catching and drying their perch, catfish, and carp, and smoking them in traditional ovens. Chad is a mixture of some 200 ethnic groups who speak more than one hundred languages. The fact that it is an ancient settlement is proved by rock carvings that date from earlier than 2000 BC and show that regions which are now desert country once enjoyed an abundance of water and wildlife. In former times the lake spanned the frontiers of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger, but in the last forty years it has shrunk by 95 percent and is now confined to Chad and Cameroon. Although there have certainly been climate changes, this catastrophe is mainly due to human activity—overgrazing, deforestation, and unregulated irrigation which has siphoned off water from the rivers that feed the lake. Farmers, cattle breeders, and fishermen are all victims of the water shortage, with poor harvests, dying cattle, dwindling stocks of fish, salination of the soil, and, as a result of all this, grinding poverty. The situation is potentially explosive, for it affects some 20 million people in the four neighboring countries. #
32
White horse of Uffington, Oxfordshire, England (51°34’N, 1°34’W).

This 365-foot-long (111 m) silhouette of a horse carved into the chalky side of a hill in the county of Oxfordshire, west of London, stands out clearly downhill from the ruins of Uffington castle. Its similarity to the designs on ancient coins suggest that it is the work of Celts during Iron Age, from around 100 BC. Local tradition maintains that this stylized depiction is the image of a dragon, drawn in homage to Saint George, who, according to legend, killed the monster on a neighboring hill. But the most likely hypothesis is that this engraving was dedicated to the cult of the Celtic goddess Epona, who was usually depicted in the form of a horse. A dozen other white horses, carefully preserved, decorate hills in this region and neighboring Wiltshire, illustrating the age-old human desire to trace onto the landscape images of power and dreams. #

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