Action 53. Watch Chasing Ice, and rethink the metaphor of “a glacial pace.”

Today I took advantage of a free showing of Chasing Ice, an incredible new National Geographic film that follows photographer’s James Balog’s efforts to document our rapidly changing glaciers in the face of climate change. Balog’s organization, Extreme Ice Survey, or EIS, has been working on time-lapse photography and videography to capture the rapid pace of change in glaciers around the world. His work is beautiful, terrifying, and profoundly moving- this is a distinctly environmental film with a strong and severe message about the pace at which we are losing ice; and it is also an incredibly stunning visual work of art.

Our showing was sponsored by local architect Matthew Coates of Coates Designs Architects, who is truly a pioneer in green and sustainable building; the auditorium we viewed the movie in is part of our local art museum of which Matthew is the primary architect and which is pursuing LEED Gold certification for sustainability- the first LEED Gold museum in Washington State. He was joined by paleoclimatologist Erik Steig of the University of Washington. After the film Dr. Steig was able to answer many of the audience’s questions about climate change effects both here and globally, and we had a great discussion ranging from basic questions about climate science to how to prioritize the steps we should be taking to address climate change. Dr. Steig’s opinion on our most important issue to focus on is sensible energy policy, stating that, as I have heard many times before and that I agree with wholeheartedly, moving towards alternative energy is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it is a common sense issue, and it make sense for a whole slew of reasons including climate change but also including local air and water quality, liveability, quality of life, national security, and on and on and on. It was great to have the expertise and articulation of these two men to move the experience from the very emotional and at times overwhelming viewing of the film into a concrete discussion of the realities of long- and short-term changes we are facing and the concrete steps we can and should be taking to address them.

If you haven’t seen the film, it is starting to be shown on the National Geographic Channel– the next showing they list is April 26. There is also some of the incredible videography of the glaciers available on the extreme ice website. However, I highly recommend watching this on the big screen if you can- that doesn’t even come close to doing justice of capturing the immense scale of the landscapes in this film, but its a start.

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