May 18, 2013
Truthdigger of the Week: James Balog
Posted on Nov 17, 2012
In his new film on the disappearance of Arctic glaciers, “Chasing Ice,” author, award-winning photographer and reformed climate-change denier James Balog used time-lapse photography to capture global warming in progress.
Balog’s film, which he made with director Jeff Orlowski and his colleagues in the Extreme Ice Survey, opened in theaters nationwide last week.
With the understanding that global warming is an abstract process typically associated with measurements and statistics, Balog sought to capitalize on his experience as a mountaineer to bring images of its most obvious effects—the melting of Arctic ice—to the public. Assignments with The New Yorker and National Geographic led Balog and his colleagues to the realization that they could use time-lapse photography to achieve the effect. So the team placed cameras set to snap pictures every 10 minutes at key locations thoughout the Arctic.
Thirty-four such cameras now sit at 16 glaciers in Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Montana and Nepal.
In the film, Balog and his crew capture the positions “then and now” of a glacier in south central Alaska that since 1984 has retreated 11 miles and lost altitude equal to the height of the Empire State Building. The ice that has disappeared is now part of the Pacific Ocean, he says.
For sharing that discomforting sincerity, and for capturing and beautifully rendering undeniable evidence of our destabilizing planet, we honor James Balog as our Truthdigger of the Week. See the trailer for “Chasing Ice” and Balog’s appearance on “Democracy Now!” below.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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