The visual indisputable evidence of climate change

“I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Well, here it is. Visual evidence that the earth is warming; there can be no dispute. In 2007, professional photographer James Balog founded the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS). He and his team installed 28 cameras on 13 glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, the Nepalese Himalaya, Alaska, and the American Rocky Mountains. Every half hour these cameras snap a photo of the glacier they’re monitoring. That amounts to 8,000 photos per year. James and his team then create timelapses from the photos, producing moving images of glaciers receding at surprising speed.

The full movie — which I saw a couple of weeks ago — shows more than these images, which include the largest ever witnessed and captured glacier calving (a chunk around the size of Manhattan Island). It follows the numerous challenges, and failed attempts, in setting up these cameras and keeping them working in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. It’s a testament to James’s determination to get this visual evidence out to the general public; despite bad knees that required surgery, he still went on these epic treks to ensure the project’s success.

And it’s clear it has made an impact already, as evidenced by the interview with the Shell employee who quit his job after seeing James’s work. While the “debate” over whether global warming is real has, in my opinion, long been settled with scientific and visual evidence such as this film, there is still too large a population who refuse to believe the human connection. But when you consider what we’ve done to the planet — clear-cut logging, greenhouse-gas emissions, fracking, exploitation of natural resources — over the course of the last few centuries, and how that’s matched up with glaciers receding at a much faster rate in the past 10 years than the previous 100, it’s just ignorant to pretend we have nothing to do with it. That it’s the natural course of things.

In my opinion, people are in denial because no one wants to change the lifestyle they’re accustomed to. Change is scary. It is unknown. But what’s scarier is leaving the legacy we are creating for generations to come. I don’t have kids, and I don’t plan on having any in my lifetime, yet I care. What I don’t understand is how parents can continue with the status quo, willing to risk passing these exponentially growing problems on to their children.

Watch the movie. Wake up.

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  • Marek Cais

    Haven’t glaciers been moving for hundreds and thousands of years?

    • Doug Walsh

      It’s all about the rate of change. What has historically, over geologic time, taken tens of thousands of years is now taking centuries. Changes that used to take thousands of years now take place in decades. Or less.

      Nobody is saying that these aren’t natural phenomena or that the earth doesn’t cool and warm over time. But it’s the RATE of that change that seems, irrefutably to me at least, to be linked to man’s industry.