This film is worth seeing for many reasons. It is visually stunning. James is an accomplished photographer and working with equally skilled videographers. And the subject matter, ice, is particularly photogenic. You will see things you have never seen before and may never see with your own eyes in your lifetime. Take the chance to see these glacial landscapes through James’ trained eye. You will not be sorry.
Also, James Balog is a tireless, driven and arguably somewhat crazy individual. His dedication is inspiring and humbling. His energy seems limitless. His goals are ambitious. His project takes him to the ends of the earth. Not once, but time and again. His sense of adventure makes me look like I live in a box. It is this type of person that has the potential to markedly change the world. And he has found a way to do it within what he knows—photography. The power of an image. It reminds us that whatever skill set we have, whatever that thing is that we are good at, there is a way to make a contribution.
Finally, there is the message. The planet’s climate is changing in ways that will undoubtedly change what we know, and have come to expect. No, we don’t know everything there is to know about the where, the when, the how. We do know, thanks in large part to James’ work, that glaciers, which cover 10% of the planet and hold nearly 70% of all freshwater, are melting at an observable and alarming rate adding water to our oceans, carbon to our atmosphere and freshwater to our saltwater. This has implications for sea-levels, ocean currents and global weather patterns. It was amazing to watch these landscapes disappear before my eyes through his time lapse photography. Amazing, and terrifying. James comments during the movie that, for many, statistics and computer models will never deliver a compelling message of this crisis, rather they will be convinced by what they can see for themselves. This movie shows climate change tangibly and powerfully.
And if all that is not enough for you, you get to hear Scarlett Johansson sing a little ditty at the end – Academy Award nominated for best original song.
To learn more about James Balog and the project visit Chasing Ice and the Extreme Ice Survey. And by all means, see the movie. It runs for another week at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor and opens in Okemos today.