Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chasing Ice: The Best Way Yet to Break Through to Deniers?

An image from the movie Chasing Ice.
If you haven't seen the movie Chasing Ice yet, see it.  It follows photographer James Balog's quest to capture, mostly through time-lapse photography, the melting of the world's glaciers.

Yesterday, I came across this video on the site Upworthy, showing an interview with a Bill O'Reilly-loving Fox News fanatic who had just seen the film.  Clearly, she had undergone a conversion in the 90 minutes it took to watch the film.

I'd bet that the place where the film got her was when Balog was discussing how he himself had been a climate skeptic until he started studying the ice cores, with their trapped air bubbles, that gave accurate readings of the planet's atmospheric conditions in pre-historic times.  A graph came on screen, showing the relationship between CO2 in the atmosphere and temperature swings over the past 800,000 years.  When CO2 went up the temperatures followed, when it went down temperatures dipped, over and over again consistently through the millennia.  At the end of the graph we reached the past hundred years, where for the first time CO2 levels shot high off the chart.

Other graphs tackled the skeptic's argument that some glaciers are actually expanding.  Balog says, yes, it's true, but the proportion of glaciers expanding set against those receding were minuscule.  And forget the comforting notion that glaciers advance again in the winter months, they're receding even then.

The film builds to a stunning scene near the end where Balog's camera crew records the dramatic collapse of an area of ice the size of lower Manhattan (except the buildings are three times as tall) in the shocking span of 75 minutes.

Rewatching the trailer just now, I was struck by a moment where Balog says "All of that obsession means nothing if it doesn't work".  Same with the climate movement.  This better work.


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