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Sustainability And Photography

The Prix Pictet is a world photography award dedicated to environmental sustainability. Twelve international photographers were named to a shortlist July 9, one of whom will be selected later this year to receive the prize.

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The prize reinforces the fact that photography has a communicative purpose. Last year's theme, water, prompted photographs of desertification, flash floods and glacial melting that showed the merciless forces of nature, as well as the environment's vulnerability to man. This year, the theme is Earth — and the imagery is no less stunning.

Among the subjects featured by this year's finalists: a photo collage of colonial Congo and today's neglected oil infrastructure; a seemingly infinite wasteland of trash in Mexico City; displaced communities along the Yangtze River; and the horrific effects of oil production in the Niger Delta.

The images testify to the environmental cost of human "progress" and show the irreversible toll of exploiting the planet's resources. More importantly, though, the ideal is to provoke action. The artists shed light on places and issues that might otherwise seem inaccessible to people. Take a look at this gallery of nominees, and check out the Prix Pictet Web site to view entire series from each photographer. Who do you think should win?

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