'/> Uncommon Hours: December 2012
Blogging on culture, politics, and the environment since 2008.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

‘Chasing Ice’: Passion and Purpose

James Balog in Chasing Ice
Chasing Ice: Passion and Purpose
By Bob Sommer

A century ago historian Henry Adams attempted to synthesize history and physics in a “scientific theory of history.” He concluded 1) that history would accelerate dramatically toward the end of the twentieth century, ending in chaos, and 2) that his experiment was a failure. He might not have thought the latter if he’d been able to compare his graph of history’s projected curve with a graph of the acceleration of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere over the past two decades, with its dire implications for rising global temperatures.

Nature photographer James Balog brings an equally ambitious historical sensibility to his film Chasing Ice, which premiered early this month and received the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival. In the images of dying glaciers throughout the Arctic regions, from Greenland and Iceland to Alaska, Balog recognized, he said, “a powerful piece of history unfolding.” This would be the last chance in history to record the melting of the planet’s great glaciers. His Extreme Ice Survey undertook a three-year project to place dozens of cameras in some of the harshest locations on earth and record, in tens of thousands of photographs, glaciers thinning, receding, and for some, disappearing forever.

Chasing Ice blends passion and purpose. Its grand story is the alarming tale of industrial mankind’s damaging impact on the planet, as the consequences of excessive carbon emissions play out in the receding and melting ice sheets of the Arctic. The film also tells the story of Balog’s passion to record and share the images of this reality. Thus the film also tells the story of the story.

Balog portrays an even more rapid acceleration of disappearing ice than he’d anticipated. The film records the largest calving of a glacier ever captured. I’d avoid a cliché like “jaw-dropping” to describe this scene if my mouth hadn’t literally fallen open as I watched it.

This movie renders climate change deniers irrelevant. The only debate that matters now is how to take action, not whether to do so. The first action is to see the movie—and bring some friends. Fortunately, for a short time the Kendeda Foundation has made that easy by offering complimentary tickets. See below the trailer for more information. See the movie! This matters!
Chasing Ice official website: http://www.chasingice.com/

Sunday, December 2, 2012

‘C’mon, baby, light my fire!’: Appearance at All Souls Unitarian Church

I enjoyed a warm reception at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City this morning to discuss the implications of a declining interest in reading and literature. The talk will be rebroadcast on KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio, on Thurs., Dec. 20th, 12:00 noon CST.

Here's the link for the text: "'C'mon, baby, light my fire!': The Rise of the Fall of Reading and Its Implications."

Here's a brief excerpt:
"The world of 1984 appears alien to us because it is based on a communist rather than a free-market model. Still, we are living in a parallel universe. False-equivalencies, flawed analogies, straw-man arguments, ad hominem attacks, political buzzwords, misinformation, and the institutional/corporate effort to keep us all thinking and talking about the same scandal or political gaff or wardrobe malfunction at the same time are eroding our ability to interpret reality and diverting our attention from uncomfortable truths that range from the damage we’re doing to our planet to the social and economic inequalities of our society to the unending wars in which we’ve engaged.…We are absorbing the language—and thereby the thinking process—of those who benefit politically and economically from diverting us away from our cultural heritages and our moral and intellectual capabilities and potential."