Chasing Ice

At the culmination of the documentary movie Chasing Ice there is a striking time-lapse sequence, covering three years in a couple of minutes, of glaciers retreating and collapsing.

Almost all the glaciers on the planet are in retreat – we’ve known this for years – but still the images are impressive, and those of the collapse are new. The glacier lying before us appears to deflate, leaving a pile of dirty rubble on the ground.

Huge icebergs break off from the Greenland ice sheet, while the glaciers retreat at an ever faster rate (chasingice.com)

Huge icebergs break off from the Greenland ice sheet, while the glaciers retreat at an ever faster rate (chasingice.com)

Chasing Ice has played in theaters in many North American cities throughout the autumn and will continue to do so through much of the winter. James Balog, who made this movie, thinks – hopes? – that seeing his images will make climate change appear more real to us, and maybe even prod us into action.

Will anyone not already convinced of the reality of a warming planet go to see the movie? I hope so.

Melting glaciers in Tibet will result in short-term flooding and then long-term drought in China and northern India (the hindu.com)

Melting glaciers in Tibet will result in short-term flooding and then long-term drought in China and northern India (the hindu.com)

Chasing Ice isn’t quite a great movie, though it is long-listed for an Academy Award. It lacks the rich data and fine graphics of Al Gore’s Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth that upset so many people. It also lacks the human drama of Ric O’Barry’s Oscar-winning The Cove. But it is interesting enough, and some of it is quite arresting. It is worth seeing.

If we experience evidence of global warming directly, as many did with the wave surge of Hurricane Sandy, perhaps then we will be convinced to act. In Chasing Ice we follow one man’s obsession with showing some of the other evidence of global warming. Like most documentary movies it was made to try to disturb us, to engage us more emotionally.

Seeing it happen on film is not the same as experiencing it, of course. On the other hand, watching a glacier retreat in real time is less than a gripping experience. Seeing it in time-lapse turns it into the real drama that it is.

This movie can only help.

Even a single picture can have a powerful impact: in 2012 the Arctic ice cap melted further than ever on record, to half of what it was 20 years ago. (wunderground.org)

Even a single picture can have a powerful impact: in 2012 the Arctic ice cap melted further than ever on record, to half of what it was 20 years ago (wunderground.org)

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