Chasing Ice – and the paradox of power.

I have spent almost half my life fighting for action on climate change, grieving the inevitable and inequitable impacts of climate change, and struggling with the vastness of what we have done to our planet and our people.

I have spent so many years crying over images of people dying and suffering at the hands of natural disasters that are only increasing in severity; and so much time fearing what will happen to the hundreds of thousands who will be left with their homes submerged and facing hostile as they seek to rebuild their lives.

But until tonight, I had never felt that devastation watching glaciers crumble. Until this evening I had never understood that collision between miracle and horror that is what we’ve – tiny, fleeting, insignificant us – have done to a planet that has spent millions of years slowly forming.

Chasing Ice is a documentary about a man who wants to bring the world indisputable images of our climate changing. Time-lapsed photographs of entire glacial shelves breaking off, of monolithic towers of ice that vanish in a handful of human years, of rapid flows of water that cut through ice flats that never should have streamed there.

James Balog brings you the sleeping giants that once held so much of our world’s carbon safe. These huge, beautiful structures that formed over hundreds of thousands of years – and he lets you watch them vanish. And it makes you feel so ashamed.

We’re the hunters who shot the elephant, kept its tusks for glory and watched its carcass rot.

The thing that hurts the most about watching Chasing Ice is knowing that the beauty your eyes can barely believe is real, no longer exists. It’s a film filled with images of what we’ve lost. And every breaking glacier begs you to stop the devastation that we’re causing.

We like to think we’re powerful. But it’s a sad and ugly power that let’s a five foot something human of flesh and blood change the composition of the air we breathe and tear apart the land on which we walk.

It is easy to see why politicians and big business in oil and coal deny what the science has already settled. But it’s harder to understand why intelligent people with access to so much information, continue to indulge in a rapidly fading fantasy that climate change is not real. I wonder if it’s because it is so sickening to look at what we’ve done. And, it can be so frightening to try and imagine the changes we must make and the barriers we must cross to solve the climate crisis.

But maybe this is where the paradox shines.

If we – these tiny fleeting creatures of flesh and blood – have managed to bring glaciers crashing down; then surely we must find the collective courage to solve the climate crisis before it is too late.

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