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Portrait of a Planet

November 11, 1990

Imagine lacy fingers of red coral groping in the silent depths of the Pacific. Picture baby seals frolicking on the sun-drenched shores of islands in the Atlantic. These are two visions of a planet both beautiful and diverse, unspoiled by human activity. Now picture Argentine rivers blackened with oily industrial toxins. Imagine Mt. Everest littered with the rusting garbage of countless expeditions. These, too, are images of Earth--and civilization's undeniable presence.

In "One Earth," a collection of color photographs published this month by Collins Publishers, 80 photojournalists from around the world have documented the gamut of environmental problems, including global warming, pollution, deforestation, endangered species and overpopulation. The photographers, many of whom contributed to the books "A Day in the Life of America" and "A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union," began shooting in August, 1989. Seven months later, they had amassed thousands of pictures, producing a dramatic portrait of the planet and the state of its fragile natural resources.

"The goal was to present a serious issue in an accessible way, using the power of photojournalism," says Kate Kelly, managing editor of the project. "We wrestled long and hard with how best to show not only the gravity of the issue but also the spirit of hope, the momentum of people worldwide who are trying to do something about these problems."

All photographs from "One Earth," 1990 by Collins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

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