A LAKE District photographer has amassed the world's largest single collection of climate change pictures during an epic 13-year journey.

Ashley Cooper, 54, travelled to all seven continents, from the Inuit communities of the Arctic to the beautiful coral atoll islands of the Pacific Ocean.

Along the way he faced arrest by the Chinese Army, who forced him to delete every picture from his camera; came close to falling down a crevasse on the Greenland ice sheet; and narrowly avoided an avalanche in the Himalayas.

The Ambleside photographer says he is still 'optimistic' about our planet's future, and he now hopes to raise £50,000 through crowdfunding to publish a book of 'powerful images' to help 'inspire much-needed action'.

"It's been an incredible experience and it's been a real privilege to go to a lot of the places that I've been able to get to," Ashley told the Gazette.

"But equally it has been quite depressing because I've been going to the front line of climate change all around the world, to the areas most severely impacted by it, whether that's Inuits being washed out of their houses in the Arctic or people in Cockermouth being flooded."

Ashley, who is married to pilates instructor Jill, set up his photography business while working for the NSPCC in Cumbria.

His 'passion' for climate change took hold 15 years ago while reading obscure scientific journals. His first photo shoot in 2004 took him to a tiny, remote island in the Arctic Ocean, between Alaska and Siberia, home to 600 Inuit hunter-gatherers.

"Their houses were getting washed away into the sea because the sea ice that used to form around their island in late September, early October wasn't forming till maybe Christmas time," said Ashley.

"I was there for a month and I was just blown away by the impact that was happening, at a point in time where probably 50 per cent of the people that I talked to about climate change said to me: 'Sorry, what's that?"

Since then his £200,000 global adventure has taken him everywhere from the world's largest solar power station in the USA to open-cast coal mines on the China-Russia border, and Antarctica, where he documented declining penguin populations.

At the tar sands of Northern Alberta - large deposits of crude oil - he was constantly followed by oil company security guards and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. And while driving to the Amazon rainforest he was injured in a head-on collision - "perhaps my most awful experience".

Ashley has the whole of June to raise the money need for his book, Images from a Warming Planet. The campaign went live yesterday (Wednesday, June 1) at www.kickstarter.com/****************

"Potentially there's a worldwide audience for it," said Ashley. " Nobody else has done what I've done. It's an important historical collection because in years to come we'll be able to look back and say, crikey, it was bad then but it's even worse now."