Photographer James Balog grew up skeptical about climate change. But in 2005, he headed to Iceland on assignment for National Geographic and found himself captivated by the spectacular beauty of the icy landscape and devastated by how it was quickly changing before his eyes. Balog had an idea: the Extreme Ice Survey, a network of 25 time-lapse cameras that would document Arctic glaciers as they melted over a period of three years.
At TEDGlobal 2009, Balog shared images from the survey. He explained what led him — an artist — to capture one of the most moving pieces of physical evidence pointing to climate change. He also shared that the project was being expanded, with 33 cameras continuing to capture the damage for a longer period of time.
In the new documentary, Chasing Ice, Balog gives far more of the story than he could in his 18-minute talk. The soaring footage — from the producer of The Cove — shows Balog and his team risking life and limb to set up their cameras, and reveals how they weather-proofed the equipment and made decisions about which scenes to capture. Overall, the film depicts a man on a mission to make everyone on the planet more aware of the irreversible effects of their choices.
Chasing Ice premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and is currently playing in select cities. (See showtimes here.) If it’s not yet in your area, you fill out a petition to get the film in your local theater, or sign up to host your own screening. See Balog’s powerful TED Talk below.