Chasing Ice – Seeing Climate Change

Chasing Ice still image

When it comes to climate change, that old adage ‘seeing is believing’ holds a lot of weight. The fact that it will take decades for the full impacts of climate change to be seen makes it easy for governments and many people to turn a blind eye. I’m guilty of it too, I have no idea what a metre of sea rise will look like, so it’s hard for me to imagine what the impact of it will be in 100 years to communities around the world.

In fact, if you’ve ever stood on a small island and looked out on the vastness of the ocean, it’s almost inconceivable that we could be changing the temperature of the ocean at all.

And yet, we are. I know where I grew up in the US that where it was once almost a certainty that we’d have a white Christmas every year, now it’s like flipping a coin. I know that bugs and critters that could never survive our cold long winters are showing up in the gardens of my parents’ farm.

I saw a documentary last week about the immediacy of the changes going on in glaciers all over the Northern Hemisphere. Chasing Ice tells the story of world renowned photographer James Balog. Balog begins a project called the Extreme Ice Survey where he sets up a series of cameras around glaciers all over the Northern Hemisphere that shoot once every hour of daylight. His time lapsed photographs show the glaciers rapidly shrinking over a three-year period.

His story is a whole list of adjectives: inspiring, mesmerising, engrossing, breath taking, and heartbreaking – to just name a few. The crew at Extreme Ice Survey have to have mountaineering skills to check on the cameras in extreme glacier locations. In one scene, Balog is seen on crutches taking photographs.

His passion was palpable. His frustrations when something didn’t work or when his body couldn’t take the beatings of the climbs was heart wrenching, but his joy when he started seeing his hard work paying off was out of this world.

The results of his work are no less stupefying when trying to put them into words. Glaciers are retreating faster then any one predicted and Balog’s cameras observe their changes over seasons.

The images that photojournalist Balog captures help to show the magnitude of the glaciers melting and their sheer size – which was hard to grasp even through photographs and video. I never realised how photogenic a giant piece of ice could be, but I’m a convert now.

I left the theatre with a lump in my throat and my stomach in knots. If glaciers are melting at this massive rate, what hope do we have? Like many movies about climate change, Chasing Ice made compelling arguments with some of the most incredible images I’ve ever seen, but left me sitting there hopeless and yearning for a way to take action.

Also like many climate change movies, I was sitting in an audience with nearly 50 climate scientists, but no one else. I know it’s small, and just another variation of ‘clicktivism,’ but I urge you to go and catch a showing of Chasing Ice. It’s playing all through the UK in May and June, click here to find a screening near you.

What hope I did take from Chasing Ice is this: there are people who are dedicating every moment of every day to protect our environment. And for those people who think seeing is believing, James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey crew have thousands of time lapsed photographs of major glaciers in Greenland, Alaska, Iceland, and Montana (Glacier National Park) disappearing. A miniscule bit of history captured on a memory card.

Please watch the trailer.

Have you seen Chasing Ice yet?

Deidre (2 Posts)

Deidre received her Masters of Environment degree in 2009. Since then, she's worked as part of the environment movement doing everything from fundraising to online engagement. She's been known to misquote Kermit-the-Frog, 'It's easy being green!'

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