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  • Chasing Ice: the Documentary to Catch Before it Melts Chasing-Ice-Documentary-Alaska - EIS field technician, Adam LeWinter on iceberg, Columbia Bay, Alaska; June 19, 2008. Full view

    EIS field technician, Adam LeWinter on iceberg, Columbia Bay, Alaska; June 19, 2008.

    Chasing Ice: the Documentary to Catch Before it Melts

    Chasing Ice Documentary Adam LeWinter on iceberg,Avoiding more of those climate change movies because you already recycle and bring your own coffee cup to Wawa? Sick of those eco propaganda “art forms” guilting you for how much “we” Americans waste each year? Good news: Chasing Ice is a different type of Climate Change movie. It never talks about what you’re doing wrong, what’s really in your food or what you’re not recycling.

    Instead, Chasing Ice shows you the result.

    Chasing Ice: Documentary

    Last week, one of my friends invited me to a “really good documentary” at the Ritz downtown. Let’s note that this documentary started at 9:50 PM, which is 10 minutes before my ideal bed time (that I never hit…). Although I typically decline any invitation past 7:30 PM on a school night, the looming Mayan-predicted end of world pushed me into a spontaneous yes. After hearing the brief summary was “about a guy taking pictures of melting ice,” I knew this was perfectly up my alley.

    Chasing Ice James Balog

    Chasing Ice follows National Geographic photographer James Balog, who has the idea to SHOW people that climate change exists. As part of the “Extreme Ice Survey”, he and his small team plant cameras capturing views of glaciers to record shots over several month periods. Of course, the first couple of trials don’t work (parts of the camera freeze, some get buried by snow, etc) but he finally cracks the code to glacier-porn recording perfection. Interviews with his family and colleagues show the intensity of the project. Also, seeing Balog suffer knee problems that threaten his project test his determination to complete this incredible project.

    The Extreme Ice Survey team captures more than the occasional picture – they track rapid acceleration of glaciers melting (that match OR exceed the past 100 years difference in a matter of 2-3 years) and even a glacier the size of Manhattan (casing?) and breaking off into the ocean. Although it’s easy to start getting bored by the looming “our-climate-is-burning-in-hell” Treehugger headlines, it is something that you need to see to start to comprehend. One of the highlights (or lowlights, depending on how you look at it…) is when they capture the largest iceberg calving on film. (Literally, a piece of ice the size of Manhattan falls into the ocean. It’s crazy.)

    Awards for Chasing Ice

    Chasing Ice has already won 23 awards, including Excellence in Cinematography Award for a US Documentary at Sundance. It’s definitely a film you’ll want to see and share with your climate change-denying friends. Or perfectly said:”Chasing Ice depicts a photographer trying to deliver evidence and hope to our carbon-powered planet.”

    Still not convinced? Here’s the Chasing Ice trailer to get you psyched to see it:

    YouTube: please specify correct url

    Although it just left the Ritz, it’s coming to the Collegeville Colonial Theatre in February and many other theaters.

    Readers, have you seen Chasing Ice? Any other movie reviews or opinions?

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with eco-friendly wine and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Pounce DeLeon.

    Your thoughts . . .

    • Lucy Weir

      Hi, Julia. This sounds like a brilliant and timely documentary. What bothers me, however, is the idea of a camera crew and documentary maker team travelling around the world in airplanes, using massive amounts of energy and generating massive amounts of ‘warming’ gases, using equipment no doubt made in factories that churn out pollution (and have dodgy human rights records), in order to bring to our screens a story that is unlikely to do more (I hope I’m wrong about this but research suggests otherwise) than convince the already open-minded/converted of the pickle we’re in. Your thoughts?

    • http://www.greenphillyblog.com Julie

      Hey Lucy –

      Although I do understand the environmental ‘toll’ of making a documentary (especially in a pristine area like the Arctic), I do think it’s necessary that we document and record such facts. Scientists can spew off numbers as much as ever, but there are some “eco-aware but not convinced” that this visualization (paired with numbers) could sway into more action. There were solid figures that are astounding. Unfortunately the fossil fuel industries (especially oil/natural gas) have limitless budgets to convince people that what they’re doing is OK, so the greenies need to go to some extreme measures as well.

      On that note, I do also recognize that everything that we do has an environmental consequence. We really need to be collectively pursue the least harmful path and encourage others to take less ‘carbon wasting’ solutions. I always try mentioning to someone what they’ll gain (saving money, losing weight, having fun) with eco-alternatives instead of the more wasteful path. Often times people aren’t aware of their choices. As a ‘greener’ minded individual, I don’t think ‘non-green’ shaming will help the green cause in the long run.

      Hope this helps!