The Beauty of "Chasing Ice" and The Importance of Climate Action

© Jeff Orlowski and James Balog

Imagine chunks of ice the size of Manhattan crumbling and flipping upside down in the ocean. Or massive glaciers stretching thousands of miles...all disappearing within a few years.

That's what photographer James Balog discovers and documents with photos and video in his new documentary Chasing Ice.

"Nature is changing, right before our eyes," says Balog on his website. "Through my work, I am committed to bearing witness to these changes, just as I have been since the start of my career in the early 1980s."

From the time of Ansel Adams, Sierra Club members have paired photography with activism, and Chasing Ice is one of the most powerful examples I’ve seen of using the power of the visual image to incite action.

The film is in theaters now, and this is one film you should really try to see on the big screen. Here’s the trailer.

"I never imagined that you could see glaciers this big disappearing in such a short time," says Balog, who’s also trained as a geologist.

Chasing Ice follows Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey team as they set up cameras by glaciers in extremely remote places -- from Greenland to Alaska. The images and video they capture over three years are truly breathtaking -- the team captures climate change on film.

Most of all, I was struck by Balog’s passion and grit. It reminded me of the energy of thousands of activists I’ve seen tackling this issue over the past decade by retiring coal plants, blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, fighting to protect the Artic from oil drilling, and stopping fracking.

Also worth noting -- Balog used to be a climate skeptic. Documenting Arctic ice over the years changed his mind. From the film's description:

Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change and a cynic about the nature of academic research. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk.

We need heroes with determined spirits like Balog's if we are to solve this immense challenge of our lifetimes. I am proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with so many of you. As Chasing Ice so poignantly demonstrates, now is the time for us to recommit and work even harder for solutions.

You can start by visiting the Sierra Club's Climate Comes Home website and asking President Obama to take action on the climate crisis.

Tags: Arctic | Documentaries | Glaciers | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | Movies | Photography

Best of TreeHugger