Edwards uses the lines of Dylan’s classic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” — a song of desperation and terror written in the early 1960s, at a time when the world feared nuclear annihilation — as captions for his gripping photos of the beautiful and the horrible in nature and human experience.
More than four decades on, Edwards sees Dylan’s frightening imagery as a prophecy being chillingly and uncannily fulfilled – but through climate change rather than nuclear blasts. In these pages, we see Dylan’s “sad forests” and “dead oceans”, a bleak world “where the people are many and their hands are all empty”, “where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten”, “where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters”, where “I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinking”.
Edwards argues that while there is increasing acknowledgement that humans are contributing to climate change, “we are still in denial, and the implications of global warming hover just outside the grasp of our imagination”. He adds: “Perhaps Bob Dylan’s piercing words and these photographs, which conjure up a future too terrible to contemplate, will help bring alive the problems that are ours to solve.”
In the second half of his book, Edwards takes his own advice regarding a search for solutions. There, he presents thoughtful essays by leading British writers, activists and scientists on the hard choices regarding climate change, making the right fixes to ensure a truly sustainable future and the need for governments to act in an interdependent world.
Edwards says he’s sent copies of his book to every prime minister and president in the world, as well as to business and religious leaders. His intends to display their replies at an exhibition at the United Nations headquarters in New York in May 2008, before moving on to other venues around the planet. As with Dylan’s lyrics, Edwards’ message is about bearing witness and spreading a warning before it is too late.
Lyric by Bob Dylan
Still Pictures Moving Words Ltd.
Revised edition, 2007
— By Maryann Bird