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Chinese photographer named UN Climate Hero (06/05/09)


UNITED NATIONS, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Luo Hong is thin and not tall in height but the 42-year-old businessman-turned photographer is great in mind.

Luo has traveled from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from Kenya to South Africa, photographing wildlife and the beauty in nature in a bid to raise awareness for the need to protect the environment.

Thursday, on the eve of World Environment Day (WED), Luo was named a "Climate Hero" by the UN Environment Program. The honor is awarded to individuals who undertake exceptional personal feats, high-profile expeditions or other acts of environmental activism.

"Climate heroes are people who take a special initiative, who go beyond the normal responsibilities that we have, who pioneer with unusual initiatives and ideas," said Achim Steiner, UNEP's executive director.

"They show the kind of commitment, enthusiasm and understanding of how important it is that we all become heroes in order to address climate change."

Luo said at a photo exhibition that opened Thursday at UN headquarters that what he wants to express through his work "is the significance to protect the planet we live on."

The exhibition, which was jointly held with British-born photographer Nigel Barker, is part of the observance of WED at UN headquarters.

Shots of the migration of wildebeest on the Serengeti grassland of Tanzania, flamingoes perched in Kenya's Lake Nakuru, and emperor penguins breeding on shrinking sea ice are among 33 photographs of Luo's shown at the exhibit.

"When you see the beautiful scenes, you will have no heart at all to destroy it," said Luo.

"You can never imagine how I was shocked when I saw the harmonious co-existence between man and nature in Africa," he said.

Luo has been to eastern and southern Africa more than 20 times in the past 10 years. In 2007, he managed to reach the Arctic and the Antarctic.

While being a photographer was his primary dream, Luo said it was just because of shooting nature that he gradually turned into a firm environmentalist.

Witnessing how severely nature was being hurt by human activities during his years of wildlife photography, Luo said he felt the responsibility to stand up and raise public awareness concerning the need for environmental protection.

He said that through his photos he hoped to encourage global citizens to love animals and respect the environment.

In addition to conducting photo exhibitions in and outside of China, Luo also invested 10 million RMB (1.47 million U.S. dollars) to establish a UNEP environmental fund in 2006 to train and encourage young people to protect the environment.

Juanita Castano, director of UNEP's New York office, spoke highly of Luo as the first Chinese citizen to be named a Climate Hero.

She said Luo and the other Climate Heroes will help UNEP boost a UN campaign that calls on world leaders to approve a new climate change agreement at a December meeting in Copenhagen.

Among the other new Climate Heroes is Roz Savage of the United Kingdom, known for her 2006 solo row across the Atlantic Ocean. Savage also plans to row across the Pacific Ocean and walk from London to Copenhagen to encourage people to walk more, drive less and use less fuel.

Other heroes are David de Rothschild of the United Kingdom and his team, which plans to sail the Pacific in a catamaran made out of reclaimed plastic bottles, and Project Kaisei, a California-based group that is studying how to capture plastic waste in the ocean and recycle it into diesel fuel.

Luo urged the world to do its best "to cherish nature and to protect the environment with a respectful mind."

"May we human beings find the wisdom to live in harmony, both with each other, with all other living beings, and with the planet itself," Luo said. "We can still save our planet!"


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