MEG members Mícheál Callaghan and Liam Murtagh went along recently to a public screening of film Chasing Ice at the IFI Dublin. The film depicts the work of photographer James Balog and his team who captured changes in the Arctic Ice Caps using time lapse photography and video capturing of the ice caps over a number of years. The result is an unprecedented recording of the dramatic changes in the Arctic Ice Caps over recent years. The film provides compelling evidence that Climate Change is occurring, that it is the result of human activities and it is happening faster than previously expected.
Balog is a scientist turned nature photographer. Following a trip to the Arctic he became increasingly frustrated at the highly polarised debate around Climate Change. Before his first trip to the Arctic he was a skeptic on Climate Change, like many others around the world. However, seeing first hand, the changing face of Arctic sea ice, he felt compelled to do more to highlight the effects of fossil fuel emissions on the earth’s Climate. He became aware of the many vested interests against tackling Climate Change, despite the conclusions of the vast majority of the world’s scientists that the Climate is changing and is happening much quicker than originally expected.
The facts and figures are stark, and even the most ardent denier would find it difficult not to be moved when confronted with the footage of huge ice caps, formed over thousands of years,simply crumbling into the ocean in the space of a few minutes. Evidence in the film, showed that up to 30% of glaciers worldwide have disappeared in recent years, with almost all others retreating. Balog states that one ice sheet studied has retreated 10 miles since 2002 compared with 8 miles in the previous 100 years.
Scientists say that to avoid run away climate change, the levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere must remain below 350 parts per million. Last month they reached 400 ppm, and with every extra tonne of Carbon Dioxide released, this rises. We can no longer hide from the science and the plain evidence about the issue that is set to define the 21st century, and our response will define the future of our lives on this planet.
The film Chasing Ice represents a call to action. The debate is over. The Climate is changing and we must adapt our behaviour accordingly. When asked about why he conducted the study, Balog stated that he wanted his children to be able to say that he did all within his power to ensure a better future for them. This is ultimately very positive and empowering. We can all ask ourselves what can we do, in our own lives, to pass on a planet that is a stable to our children and their children to come.Various steps can be taken. 1) We need to inform ourselves of the issues and the consequences of our actions, and change our behaviour in some way at local level. 2) We can change our communities to have less of an impact and to create communities that can withstand the changes we face 3) We can engage in active mind to stand up to the fossil fuel industry which is making huge money at the expense of a stable future and demand policy changes from our leaders.