A glossy photo book with an urgent message | AspenTimes.com

A glossy photo book with an urgent message

Joel StoningtonAspen Times Weekly
Title: The Last Polar BearPhotographs: Steven KazlowskiPublisher: Braided River BooksPrice: $39.95

Most photo books are just something nice to look at. Many dont even have more than a page or two of text. The Last Polar Bear, however, is a different beast altogether and something with a good deal more meat on its bones. The images in this 200-page book stunning shots of polar bears playing, caribou in front of distant mountain ranges and bloody whale carcasses document nearly a decade that Steven Kazlowski spent photographing wildlife in Alaska. These photos go beyond the category of beauty shots or eye candy. But the writing in this book truly sets it apart as an unusually serious and well-written glossy photo book. Essays by Theodore Roosevelt IV, Frances Beinecke and others seek to educate readers about the problems faced by polar bears and the possible solutions.Daniel Glicks essay, Fever Pitch: Understanding the Planets Warming Symptoms, is a solid primer on the fundamentals of global climate change. Authors Richard Nelson and Nick Jans take it a step further to outline the relationship of native residents to the Arctic and to the oil-dependent world, respectively.The Last Polar Bear is the first book published by a new nonprofit imprint called Braided River Books, a spinoff of Mountaineers Books, a Seattle publisher known for trail guides, thoughtful outdoor-oriented memoirs and how-to books. It may be a direction more publishers will take in the future as climate change and other environmental issues become more pronounced.Indeed, the new imprints publisher, Helen Cherullo, and Kazlowski, took a trip to Washington, D.C., in spring 2007 to lobby representatives and senators with the photos from the book. The people we met with were practiced, formal and polite, but most were stirred by those photographs they saw, wrote Cherullo, of her D.C. visit, in the introduction to the book. The last of Steves images showed a polar bear in a zoo. If we do nothing as a society, and the ice continues to melt, Steve said, within decades, this could be the only place on earth a polar bear will be found.stonington@aspentimes.com