I engaged a disagreement with a friend this weekend over the causes of global warming. After the usual lines were drawn and my offer to share a mountain of credible data “proving” human culpability was left on the table I revisited the film Chasing Ice (www.chasingice.com). It chronicles James Balog’s exhausting team effort to document the disappearance of our glaciers in the northern hemisphere. Early in his career Balog recognized that most people are unaffected by data, numbers, and the value of credible sources. After all, we can find “evidence” on the net to support just about any political posture. Vetting the credibility of the source requires time and sophistication beyond our 2 minute attention span. Balog’s solution: leave an impression in the viewer’s gut with stunning visual imagery at the confluence of art and science. “Chasing Ice” is a historic film that succeeds and I wholeheartedly recommend you watch it, share Balog’s time lapse imagery with a friend (www.extremeicesurvey.org), and consider these brief bullet points:
- Man’s role in Global Warming has been confirmed and the mountain of evidence is readily available. This is not liberal propaganda. 1 million years of empirical evidence (the oxygen record) has been pulled up from inside layers of ice in Greenland and Antarctica and a clear pattern is evident: We are out of sync with natural oscillations and “Nature is not natural anymore”.
- Exponential acceleration is evident: Greenland is losing ice 3 times faster than in the 1990’s. The Columbia Glacier in Alaska has receded 2 miles in 5 years. In less than 30 years, Glacial National Park will need a new name.
- There is no disagreement among credible (peer reviewed) climatologists that accelerated global warming is underway, that the stakes are very high, and that the debate should now be focused upon how to address our culpability.
- If we care about this precious blue planet then we should abide by the Precautionary Principle: If an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action (ie. industry dumping unacceptable levels of carbon into the atmosphere).
That said, pictures speak a thousand words.