Seeing Is Important: The Meaning Of (Melting) Ice

Back to one of my favorite themes, because last night I saw the documentary “Chasing Ice.”

It’s about the quest of photographer James Balog to capture–through time-lapse photographs taken by remotely positioned cameras–what is happening to the earth’s great glaciers.

You may know that they are melting and shrinking. But knowing something and seeing something are two different things. And seeing Balog’s time-lapse sequences–which convey both the majesty of what we are losing and the relentless, rapid rate at which the loss is occurring–drives home the reality in a way that provokes truly powerful emotions.

Balog is one of a number of photographers who are focused on the Arctic. It is there, perhaps more than anywhere else on earth, that you can see the dramatic impact of climate change, both on the natural world and on animal life. And the fact that it is a true wilderness, mostly unspoiled by a direct human presence, makes its degradation all the more poignant. That, plus the fact that human culture is having such an outsized impact on the atmosphere that it is destroying an entire ecosystem REMOTELY.

Another photographer whose work is documenting this phenomenon in a compelling way is Florian Schulz. Outside Online recently published a series of Schulz’s photos, called Into The Arctic. Here are a few (full set is here):

Schulz has also taken to film to try to convey the experience and meaning of the Arctic.

Welcome To The Arctic from Florian Schulz on Vimeo.

It’s impossible not to see all this and not feel anger and despair at the lack of wisdom and caring involved. But it also makes me want to channel those feelings into a desire to change everything. More on that soon…

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