'Until the West makes sacrifices, nothing will change'

Photographer Martin Parr visited a Vietnamese village to capture the lives of people for whom flooding caused by climate change is a fact of life
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The Independent Online

Capturing the reality of climate change – stripping away the political point scoring and scientific sophistry to focus on its real, human impact – has become almost impossible. Nevertheless, Martin Parr, a British documentary photographer, accepted the challenge from Oxfam to do just that.

Best known for his photographs of the wealthy West, he produced these pictures during a week spent travelling across Vietnam to meet people in the areas worst affected by floods in recent years.

Parr found and photographed families with well-developed emergency plans, who knew what possessions they would rescue the next time their homes flooded. For them it is a question of when, not if, the next floods come.

"This notion of people actually living and accepting flood conditions, and therefore having decisions made as to what they would most value when it comes to the quick evacuation, or the quick ascent into the mezzanine, is fascinating," Parr said.

In this series of photographs Parr has captured the resignation of some of the world's poorest communities. People who know that the weather has changed irrevocably and although not part of the cause, they are the ones who have to deal with the worst effects.

"Until there's some really radical determination to change this, and the wealthy West stops and sacrifices the things it take for granted now, nothing's going to change," Parr said. "It's just going to get worse and worse. Ultimately, until you have radical action from governments, nothing will change."