Chasing Ice Summary

Robert Patriarca, Contributor

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In the film Chasing Ice, photographer James Balog shows an array of time lapse photos over the span of three years. The photos are of glaciers from Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, and Montana, and the photos show that they are melting at an alarming rate. Balog aims to show visual evidence of climate change. Therefore, he and the Extreme Ice Survey team (EIC) set up over 25 cameras that were specially programmed to take one picture of the glaciers every hour for the duration of three years. The outcome documented two kinds of visual evidence of climate change. The first set of evidence recognized a process called calving. Calving is when enormous chunks of glaciers, some the size of Manhattan, fall into the ocean. This adds more water to the ocean, thus causing the sea levels to rise. The second set of evidence showed the ice glaciers melting and retreating, some of which have completely vanished.

James Balog has admitted that he, at one point, was a skeptic of climate change. He did not think it was caused by humans and was not a practical concern. However, his opinion changed when he learned about ice cores. He gained knowledge of carbon data and witnessed, first-hand, the negative side effects of black carbon. Black carbon is a combination of dust, CO2 and carbon soot caused by humans that can melt the glaciers. Its black coating absorbs the sun, consequently leading to the glaciers “dying”, as Balog sympathetically stated. “The glaciers are retreating and not re-advancing,” he says.

Since the 1980s the effects of climate change have been on the rise. Sadly, this has led to the extinction of various animals and plant life. Another effect of climate change has been longer seasons and higher temperatures. This could cause frequent and destructive forest fires. Furthermore, climate change can be seen reshaping the landscape. Another shocking fact to note is that of 1,400 glaciers, 400 have completely depleted, 700 have become smaller, but only four have gotten bigger.

Balog believes it is important to capture and show photos of the glaciers at night, because he believes it is a reminder that we need to depend on nature and not divorce it. He says in numerous speeches that humans depend on nature for survival. Balog travels around the world giving lectures on his findings hoping to not only educate scientists, but the public as well. He influences people with visual evidence of climate change. James Balog concludes the film with emphasizing the importance and urgency of the situation. He believes we should take action before it is too late and the glaciers are gone forever.

Chasing Ice is available at amazon instant video and YouTube.

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Chasing Ice Summary