The Crestiad

Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923

Spring Awakening for Chasing Ice

Jenny Weatherford, Crestiad Special

I first became familiar with James Balog’s work when I was looking for compelling material to use for a section on climate change that I was teaching in an internation- al studies course. I knew from past experi- ence that no matter how convincing I found the scientific evidence for climate change myself, there were going to be some students who would remain unconvinced, or who might even be downright hostile toward the subject. After all, Al Gore invented global warming, right?

Presenting the evidence as summarized in the IPCC report, or the scientific studies from which it drew to make policy recom- mendations, wasn’t going to cut it. I needed something that went beyond data and graphs, something that was visual and dramatic, something that would be so astounding that the students couldn’t possibly ignore it. I found just that in Extreme Ice which aired on PBS as part of NOVA in 2009.

Now, Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey are taking center stage in a new fea- ture-length film directed and produced by Jeff Orlowski and released at the beginning of 2013. The CCC community will have a chance to see this new movie, Chasing Ice, this Thursday evening, April 25, at 7:30 p.m.

in Miller 33 as a kick-off to Cedar Crest’s Earth Day celebration on Friday. For a preview, you can visit the website and watch the trailer at

Using time-lapse photography, James Balog records changes in some of the large masses of ice that help keep the Earth cool and in balance. While many people seem to remain unmoved by reports of ever shrink- ing sea ice and glaciers, they are unlikely to be so indifferent to the images and videos they’ll see in this new movie. Filmed in some of the most beautiful and harshest landscapes on Earth, Chasing Ice presents breathtaking cinematography at the same time that it drives home a stark and dis- turbing reality: the Earth is changing more quickly and more radically than most realize. Watching the retreat of a glacier over a year’s time when it is sped up to a 15-second sequence, or the disappearance of a lake on an ice sheet over an afternoon, or the break- away of a gigantic chunk of centuries-old ice as it roils and rolls in arctic waters has an immediacy and emotional impact that data and climate models do not have for most people.

Climate change may well be the most global of all the crucial issues pressing upon humanity these days, for it has the potential to affect every aspect of life on Earth. Chasing Ice portrays some of the large-scale changes happening in places that we may not usually see or think about. But just because they are not within our normal visual scope or mental universe does not mean that these places are not crucial to the future of the planet. What happens to the large frozen masses of the Arctic and Antarctic regions and the glaciers in the world’s mountain ranges will have consequences for the rest of the globe and all life on it.

In Chasing Ice, science and photographic art meet to create a forceful argument readily comprehensible to even the most unscientifically inclined. That they also do so in a way that is visually and emotionally gripping makes this one of the most important contri- butions to the discussion of climate change to date. Join us at 7:30 p.m. in Miller 33, on Thursday, April 25—the eve of Cedar Crest’s Earth Day celebration—for this stunning vision of planetary change. A panel discussion with Cedar Crest faculty and staff will follow the film.


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This entry was posted on April 25, 2013 by in 2013, Opinion.
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