Chasing Ice

This documentary from the USA about global warming was presented at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival (this review was first posted on June 5, 2012). It features intrepid National Geographic photographer James Balog, who has created an ingenious method for measuring climate change as it effects glaciers: 25 time-lapse cameras set up in Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and Montana. After some arduous treks into harsh remote areas, Balog and his stalwart team of assistants anchored the cameras, set the timers and went back to civilization.

They made beginners' mistakes: they had used faulty timers and had totally underestimated the violence of nature. Cameras were smashed by falling rocks and lens covers were sand blasted. After weeping bitter tears over their failures, they gamely redesigned their cameras and started again. This time they recovered remarkable visual records of the glaciers and their ever-changing size.

I had some problems with this beautifully shot film: It is alarmist to the point of absurdity. For example, it uses clips from Katrina and, what seemed to me, the recent Japanese tsunami, neither of which were related to global warming. I recognize why they would want to use artistic license to make a point, but at risk of losing credibility? Besides, they were preaching to the choir.

Balog's mission is to provide evidence of global warming. Okay.... Now what?

For an exciting and energizing version of this same issue which also includes clips about possible solutions, please find Bjørn Lomborg's upbeat 2010 documentary, "Cool It." This one introduces us to brilliant minds who are already addressing the problem and researching ways to mitigate it.

For absolutely spectacular photography, see "Chasing Ice." For ideas and solutions, see "Cool It."