For the past few months, I have spent the majority of my waking hours on Chasing Ice, an award-winning documentary about photographer James Balog’s quest to capture visual evidence of glaciers before they disappear. I got involved in the project after my friend Drew Levin told me I had to meet his friend Danny Goldhaber, who was in town for the week to shoot a short film. We got breakfast together, which turned into a brainstorming session, led me to meet Chasing Ice director Jeff Orlowski, and ultimately, has had a profound impact on my life. (I should note that Drew and I met sitting outside of Nacho’s office my freshman year. A big thanks to him for this one.)
I’ve always been interested in the way that society’s progress has influenced the planet we live on, and I am well-versed in the discussions that surround climate change. But I did not get involved with Chasing Ice because I want to talk to people about the way we are changing nature. I got involved because I fundamentally believe that many people, especially Americans, live in a perpetual state of reckless overconsumption, unaware of what they are doing to themselves and their environment. In short, I want to help people live better, and to do that, I need to start by helping them understand how they are living right now.
For those of you that know me, you’re familiar with my belief that people should live more intentionally and mindfully, and that the biggest thing schools fail to teach people is how to reflect. Schools teach us to become passive consumers of information and society teaches us to show off our wealth through things. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and in fact, if it continues that way, we won’t be here much longer.
It has been a privilege and a blessing to be a part of the Chasing Ice team, because the people that I work with daily – Jeff Orlowski, James Balog, Paula DuPre Pesmen, Lindsay Friedman, Larissa Rhodes, Ali Fujino, Jerry Aronson (and many others) – are people who I truly believe are putting in energy to help shape the course of society by educating others on what it is we are doing to the planet and how we can see it in the ice. Many people have tried to reduce this film to pseudo science or claim that we are fear-mongering, but that’s not true. What Chasing Ice does is present irrefutable visual evidence of these changes as they are happening all around us. It is a wake up call for society to realize that “we cannot live the way we have lived and we cannot consume the way we have consumed,” as Lewis Pugh says.
At the end of the movie, Balog mentions that in twenty years from now, when his daughters ask him what he was doing to stop these changes, he wants to be able to say that he was doing all he could with the skills that he had. I hope that I can be so lucky.
Although it was not intentional, I believe that the release of Chasing Ice in the weeks before Thanksgiving is worth reflecting on, as Thanksgiving is often seen as a holiday of consumption. I hope that as we sit down with our families and friends in the coming days, we reflect on what we have, what we have given each other, and what we have given to the world. Every one of us has different talents, and it is up to us to use those talents to build a better future – a more sustainable future – for us, our children, and our children’s children.
You can learn more about Chasing Ice and find a showing near you at chasingice.com
*Note: The opinions expressed above solely reflect the views of the author and are not written on behalf of Chasing Ice or any other members of the team.