If you have a friend or acquaintance who is a climate change skeptic or denier, do them a favor and treat them to dinner and a movie. Find out where James Balog’s documentary Chasing Ice is screening near you and take them to see it. At worst, you will have a nice meal and spend an hour and fifteen minutes watching a real-life story of determination, effort and passion that is inspiring. At best, you may be able to cut through the political fog that surrounds the issue of climate change and open the eyes of someone to the transformation of our planet’s climate that is taking place right now. Without a doubt you will see some of the most stunning and beautiful photography ever put on film. It would be difficult for any thinking person to walk out of this movie without believing that climate change is real.
Balog set up automatic cameras in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and Montana to take time-lapse photographs of retreating glaciers. His project, the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) was an incredibly ambitious undertaking designed to document the melting ice. He and his team traveled to some of the harshest places on Earth to install and monitor photographic equipment that documented the break-up and melting of glaciers at a pace that is greater than has ever been experienced in modern history. One incredible sequence documents the collapse of a section of an Icelandic glacier that is the size of lower Manhattan. (This footage alone makes the movie worth seeing) The physical and technical challenges that were overcome to to make EIS a reality are as much a part of the story as the evidence collected.
Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!-Leonardo da Vinci
There is no heavy-handed proselytizing in Chasing Ice and no real politics. There is very little hard-core science, save for a well done segment explaining the scientific significance of deep ice core samples and the correlation between the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and temperature. What you will find in this movie is the compelling story of photographer James Balog’s efforts to create a diary of images taken over a period of several years. His images chronicle the alarming changes taking place to glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere that are far beyond what he, or anyone, expected when he undertook this mission. Balog has collected a body of evidence that is incredibly convincing because it is simple, factual and authentic. The photographic record compiled by EIS speaks louder and more clearly than any advocate could ever hope to.
Who Are You Going To Believe-Me Or Your Lyin’ Eyes?
Balog opens his narration of the movie with an analogy comparing climate change denial to a patient with an abscessed tooth who shops from dentist to dentist until he finds a doctor who tells him it’s O.K. to leave the infected tooth in place. I believe that climate change deniers are more akin to someone who, having exhausted their list of doctors, turns to their garbage man for a favorable opinion. Why trust science? Balog makes it clear that there is overwhelming consensus among scientists that climate change is taking place and that it is, at least in part, attributable to the activities of man. His photographic record makes it clear that there are consequences that are occurring now.
Anyone with even a rudimentary idea of how to calculate volume should be frightened by the scope of the changes that are taking place. A few back-of-the-envelope calculations will give you an approximation of the amount of water being released by these glaciers into the world’s oceans. The rising sea-levels that will result should make anyone living near the coast, like say in New York City, take notice. But that’s science and climate change is all about politics, isn’t it? If I get an answer that I don’t like, I’ll turn to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity for guidance. After all, my garbage man said it was O.K to walk around with a diseased tooth. I’m sure that nasty pain will go away soon.
I saw the movie at the Acme Screening Room in Lambertville, NJ. It was a great place to see a movie but, aside from my wife and I, there were only about 20 other people in the theater. This is a movie that needs to be seen by as many people as possible. One of the things that you take away from this film is the sense that it is time for action. A modest start is to see this movie (and take someone with you). You can find a screening near you here. I guarantee that you will be inspired to do something to make a difference after seeing it. If you have any sense of responsibility to your children or to future generations you will be moved to do what you can. Hopefully, its not too late. -Ben Spinelli