THE NEW COAST

Michael Rhebergen

2019 - 2022

According to scientific research it’s not the question if, but when coastal regions in the world will lose land as a result of sea level rise. Living in a country with its famous capital below sea level, I wonder what the consequences will be for The Netherlands?

As a Dutch documentary photographer I’ve been travelling the world to tell stories and with an increasing frequency I came into touch with the impact of climate change in far away places. I photographed flooded areas and talked to people who, for years on end, saw their harvest fail and saw now other solution than to leave their homes.

But what will be the consequence for my home country? That’s a question that has kept me occupied for the last two years.

Experts agree that if temperatures keep rising, the icecaps will further melt and the permafrost will disappear, causing ocean levels to rise more than just a few meters. A Dutch new coastline will then come urgently close.

But where will this new coastline be and who will come to live at sea?

Being born in the eastern part of The Netherlands, I realized that the environment I know so well could easily be gone within one century. My own backyard will change drastically. So I decided to jump on my bicycle and photograph this imaginary new coastline and meet the inhabitants who live here. In search for visual signs that tell something about the threat of a changing climate and our relationship with the environment. The new coast as a metaphor for an alarming future.

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