Nature photographer James Balog had long been skeptical that human activity had anything to do with global warming. “I didn’t think that humans were capable of changing the basic physics and chemistry of this entire, huge planet. It didn’t seem probable, it didn’t seem possible.” But he changed his mind after taking part in an Arctic expedition sponsored by National Geographic in 2005. On that trip he saw the effects firsthand and decided to document the world’s rapidly melting glaciers. This culminated in his film “Chasing Ice.”
When examining footage from cameras that had been placed on a mountainside in Greenland, Balog and his team discovered they’d captured an incredible “calving” event (when pieces of a glacier break off and fall into the ocean). “We’re just observers, two little dots on the side of the mountain. And we watched and recorded the largest witnessed calving event ever caught on tape.”
“The only way you can really try to put it into scale with human reference is if you imagine Manhattan and all of a sudden, all of those buildings just start to rumble and quake and just peel off and fall over, fall over, and roll around. This whole massive city just breaking apart in front of your eyes.” And indeed, this calving event involved ice as large as lower Manhattan but with a thickness 2 to 3 times the height of the tallest buildings.
Calving itself is a perfectly natural process: you can think of a glacier as being a river of ice, a frozen version of the rain-river-ocean water cycle. What’s worrisome is how much more rapidly than normal glaciers have been melting. For example, this particular glacier has retreated farther in the last 10 years than in the previous 100.
Check out the video we’ve posted below. It’s beautiful but also has an ominous message — no wonder it has well over 50 million views. We’d love to her what you think in the Facebook comments. Be sure to like and share, too!