PhotoLuminations: Photography and Stories

Jerry Halberstadt: Seeing the story, making a difference

Salem's Global Warming

Salem Dominion Electric Coal Delivery from Friendship Copyright 2006 Jerry Halberstadt Coal being offloaded for the Salem Electric Plant of Dominion, with the Friendship in the foreground. This juxtoposition symbolizes the paradox of 50-year-old technology that may threaten public health and impact on global warming, while this waterfront area is at the heart of the ongoing and planned tourism development on property owned in part by Dominion. The original 1797 Friendship of Salem was a three-masted, square-rigged vessel used in the East India trade until captured by the British in 1812. The ship shown here at the Salem Maritime National Historic site was constructed in 1998 as a replica of the original. Articles on pollution & Salem Harbor Power Plant
Salem Independence Day Fireworks & Friendship Copyright 2006 Jerry Halberstadt 3292 Salem Custom House from Friendship  Copyright 2006 Jerry Halberstadt

Independence Day Fireworks over the Friendship, heralding a traditional community celebration.

The Custom House, seen from the Captain's cabin of the Friendship: proud symbols of a maritime and mercantile past.

Salem-Boston Ferry from Friendship Copyright 2006 Jerry Halberstadt

The new Salem-Boston ferry, Nathaniel Bowditch, as seen from the bow of the Friendship, symbolizing the renewal of Salem as a commuter bedroom community and a tourist destination.


Seeing History and the Environment

What is the best balance between the short-term economic interests of the town and Dominion, and the environment: local, regional, worldwide? Has Dominion done everything possible to mitigate the environmental impact of the plant? Have we as citizens demanded that government at all levels set and enforce regulations to minimize environmental impact?

Perhaps looking only at the Dominion smokestacks is the wrong focus. Are we ignoring a myriad of sources of pollution and energy waste? What about the other sources of global warming and pollution such as inefficient insulation, reliance on gas-guzzling cars, or the use of hazardous chemicals? Are we pressing for changes in lifestyle and regulations? If not, what are we waiting for?

Salem is a proud city with a proud past. As tourists, we see grand homes and sailing ships, shops with witch costumes, cobbled streets, and a once-busy harbor. It also has hidden areas of great natural beauty. If we look only at the surface, we make pretty photographs that tell a surface story. However, if we bring some background knowledge and thought to interpret what we see, we may see things in a different light. We may wonder that a town would be proud of a past in which innocent girls were hanged as witches. We may wonder at the stately mansions built on the slaughter of whales for oil.

And how can we ignore the pollution from burning coal or the threat of global warming? While Dominion has made concessions to environmental concerns, has the plant been brought up to best-practice standards? Perhaps the town ignores remaining issues because they need the good will of Dominion. The town needs the income from Dominion, the seaside develpment area is owned by Dominion, or perhaps people look the other way on environmental concerns because Dominion is in many ways a model citizen, supporting positive local initiatives. But if we want our children and grandchildren to have decent lives, we need to look a bit further. We need to look at ourselves. I recall the wisdom of Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." A photograph can come to identify and symbolize the challenges of a town.

Articles on pollution & Salem Harbor Power Plant