Home > Columnists > Chasing Ice, wind and McKibben | Stanley Heller

Chasing Ice, wind and McKibben | Stanley Heller

It’s not often you combine the words “beautiful” and “terrifying” together in a sentence when talking about a film, but those words are accurate in the description of “Chasing Ice.” It’s a film by photographer/videographer James Balog. He studied climate in college, but decided he didn’t like computer models. He wanted to show climate change visually. He hit on the idea of showing what is happening to glaciers, to show how they’re shrinking and disappearing, so he founded the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS). Glaciers are important. Many people depend on them for water. By many I mean 200 million.

Balog has done some great work in photography. You can see some of his work on his site. He’s written eight books filled with photography, among them Tree: A New Vision of the American Forest (2004) and Survivors: A New Vision of Endangered Wildlife (1990).

Now the one thing we all know about glaciers is that they change S L O W L Y. So Balog hit on the idea of taking photographs with cameras that would take a photo once an hour for several months. He thought he could just get these time lapse cameras off the shelf, but he was wrong. The thing was he was going to set up cameras in some of the coldest and windiest places on earth. So he had to create the cameras and get teams of people together who mount them on mountains and such and visit these cameras every few weeks and download the images of the camera’s computer chips. He put his cameras in Iceland, Alaska, Greenland and in Glacier National Park in Montana. He gathered the images together and we see them as if they were video.

He also had teams with actual video cameras looking at glaciers that were calving (the process where icebergs break off). In one case he hit the jackpot. An immense amount of ice that has breaks off before your eyes. In fact it’s the biggest calving ever caught on film. Spectacular.

The glaciers are shrinking, calving, disappearing and that is the terrifying part. We are ripping up the earth to dig out and burn every bit of fossil fuel we can find and we’re changing the climate into one unfavorable for a huge number of species including homo sapiens. More about the movie here.

If you’re near West Haven on Saturday, January 25 come to the West Haven Library at 300 Elm Street at 2 p.m. to see the movie. It’s free. (Or you can watch it on Netflix)

Promoting Enduring Peace bought the copy of the film being shown in West Haven and we’re eager to show it around for free . (We’ll even bring popcorn!) If you think you can get 7 or more people together to see it at a library or a home contact me at: Stanley.Heller@pepeace.org.

New Wind Turbines Still Banned

It should be obvious that we have to move Heaven and Earth to produce renewable energy. One very big part of it is wind power, but there is one state where it’s illegal. No, it’s not some benighted Bible-Belt state. It’s the great state of Connecticut. There has been a moratorium on new wind turbines since 2011. The hold-up is the lack of proper regulations. A set has been created by the Connecticut Siting Council, but in December they were voted down for the fourth time.

Speaking about those opposed to the regulations Chris Phelps of Environment Connecticut says, “They keep raising new and largely specious objections. Their goal is not to get good regulations; their goal is to get no regulations. It’s obvious at this point.” Roger Smith of Clean Water Action called the situation “mind-boggling.”

Opponents of wind power spend a lot of time thinking up objections. You can see them here and here. Some of them are worth thinking about. There’s the question of noise. These are huge machines after all. Some are near 500 feet tall. There’s the amount of birds that are killed (You would think birds would avoid these huge things, but many don’t). There’s a problem called “shadow flicker.” That’s what happens when the sun is behind the wind turbine and the machine acts like a strobe light. There’s the possibility that the wind companies will go out of business and leave hundred foot hulks rusting in the sun. There are those who don’t like the way the turbines look.

On the other hand there’s the strong possibility that without wind power as part of the effort to go renewable the climate for seven billion people on earth will change catastrophically. Many think that’s important, too. After two years (and no doubt examples of regulations in other states and countries) you would think regulations could be created.

If you’re in Connecticut you might write to the Regulations Committee and ask them why they haven’t gotten the regulations written. The members’ emails are below. Just paste this block into the “To field” and send your message.

Ayala@senatedems.ct.gov, paul.doyle@cga.ct.gov, Duff@senatedems.ct.gov, Len.Fasano@cga.ct.gov, Rob.Kane@cga.ct.gov, Angel.Arce@cga.ct.gov, Clark.Chapin@cga.ct.gov, Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov, Dan.Fox@cga.ct.gov, Robert.Megna@cga.ct.gov, Selim.Noujaim@housegop.ct.gov, Terrie.Wood@housegop.ct.gov, Elissa.Wright@cga.ct.gov

McKibben’s Latest

Finally, there’s another must-read article by climate activist Bill McKibben in Rolling Stone. It’s called “Obama and Climate Change: The Real Story.” A year ago McKibben sponsored the big Washington, DC climate rally with a theme “Do the Right Thing, Mr. President. We’ve Got Your Back.” That’s not McKibben’s theme any more. In this article he shows how the president has deliberately chosen to do the wrong thing time after time. It’s depressing, but necessary reading.

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