2012-10-30

Chasing Ice – The Epic Beauty Of Creation On Display

by Yo Snyder

Is global warming real? Is climate change really happening? Are we
all going to be living on beach-side property in the tropics in the near
future after all the ice caps melt? Well, I’m not sure about that last
part, but the rest of it has been an on-going, serious debate; one in
which it’s been kind of difficult to know exactly what to believe.
Sometimes it all seems so obscure, or theoretical, or something for
which all the data about it is all rather nebulous. Well, photographer
James Balog  felt the same way, but when he stopped to think about it,
it seemed fairly obvious where we should be looking for evidence of any
sort of warming or climate change; in the ice. And so he set out on an
ambitious project with a simple premise; watch the ice in various
glaciers to see if they’re melting. If they are, can there really be any
more debate about the climate changing?

Chasing Ice follows Balog on the journey of making his simple
idea into a reality. Although the concept itself is simple enough,
actually doing it turned out to be a truly epic undertaking. Getting
cameras into some of the most remote areas of the world where they would
have to endure truly extreme conditions while at the same time reliably
shoot photos over the course of long periods of time was no easy task.
When the conditions and weather weren’t causing problems, the technology
was. And when the technology wasn’t making things difficult, the limits
of human capability were giving Balog some problems of his own. During
the course of this film, you’ll see him face down every challenge that
arises, and the result of his dedication and obstinance is truly
astounding.

This is a movie that you’ll want to see. Not
just see as in “go to the theater to watch it”, but see because of its
visual grandeur. From the pictures of James Balog to the video captured
while recording his journey, these are some breathtaking images that are
truly incredible. I felt kind of bad because I knew there was a message
in this film that I was supposed to care about, but I just kept getting
so swept away by the visuals that I probably wasn’t paying as close
attention to what I was being told as to what I was seeing. Of course,
all of that comes to a head towards the end as the visuals are used to
demonstrate what’s happening to glaciers all around the world. Again, I
know there was important information there I was supposed to be
processing, but I was spending to much time sitting in awe of what I was
seeing. Now, I’ve been rather obtuse about what exactly you’ll see, but
that’s merely because my words couldn’t possibly do it justice. You
just have to see it; especially the scenes where truly enormous bergs of
ice break off from glaciers. It’s mind bogglingly spectacular.

However,
there is more than just gorgeous scenery to this movie, there is an
important topic at stake; the issue of global warming and climate
change. The film makes it’s case quite well for the most part, however,
there was a moment or two where it was a bit heavy handed. One part in
particular stood out where it subtly but clearly took a jab at the
conservative right and those who might think that global warming is
another urban myth. The film does such a fine job of stating its case
with incredible and beautiful images that this felt a bit petty and
otherwise beneath the simple, straight-forward, no-nonsense presentation
we get in the rest of the movie. I also found it interesting just how
often it was commented that geologic events on the scale of the which is
being observed in this movie aren’t supposed to happen within an
observable time-frame. We’ve been conditioned to think in terms of
billions and millions of years, so to see things changing on an epic
scale right before our eyes is rather mind blowing; or is it? 

It’s
so fascinating to think that even though, right in front of us as we
watch, a geologic event that has the potential of global impact is
taking place, it’s assumed that such a thing occurring in such a brief
amount of time is an aberration. Although we’re told that such things
usually take billion to millions of years to occur, that’s never really
been observed; it’s inferred. And yet we are now actually seeing one
take place; we have the opportunity to observe it and even document it
because it’s happening in a much shorter span of time than expected. So,
who’s to say that isn’t the norm (to have major geologic events happen
in very brief time periods) rather than the exception? The Biblical view
of short time periods being all that’s necessary for major geologic
events is often scoffed at as being improbable, but if there’s one thing
that Chasing Ice demonstrates quite clearly; even the improbable isn’t impossible. It’s definitely something worth thinking about.

Which
pretty much sums up the whole film; it’s definitely something worth
thinking about. What’s happening to the world’s glaciers is dramatic,
that’s abundantly clear from the images presented in Chasing Ice.
What’s less clear is what can be done about it. If we are already past
the “tipping point”, what can be done to slow things down? More
importantly, not all of us can traipse about the world documenting
changes to the world’s ice, so what can an average, ordinary citizen do
about what’s happening? Those are definitely things to ponder, but
again, perhaps what you’ll be thinking about most after seeing Chasing Ice
is “How in the world did they get that shot?” You don’t have to be an
activist or even all that concerned about global warming, but you do
need to see this movie if for no other reason that it will likely
install a renewed sense of wonder and awe for this amazing world we
live. It’s unbelievably gorgeous; something we often forget while check
our Twitter feeds.

Score: 6 of 7 (there are a couple of explicatives in the film, but this really is a film the whole family should see)

For more information and to find a screening near you, visit chasingice.com.