Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Chasing Ice vs. Hurricane Sandy

By Cam Mather

You need to see the documentary called “Chasing Ice.” No really. You NEED to see it! This could be a life changing investment of your time.

The movie follows the Extreme Ice Survey team as they catalog disappearing glaciers, and it’s terrifying and beautiful all at the same time. If you can see it on a big screen I strongly recommend it. Not only to see the beauty of these places but also to experience it in a theatre with other human beings. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a theatre where people sat silently for so long after a movie ended. Everyone just sat. Call it awe. Call it shock. Call it feeling dazed and confused, but I do believe it was a life changing experience.

What the film demonstrates, better than any study or book you’ll ever read, is the pace of glacier retreat and ice melt, with just a 0.8°C or 1.7°F increase in average global temperatures. If it’s happening this quickly with this much carbon in the atmosphere, where are we headed? Suffice to say we’re headed there fast.

Michelle and I decided to see it in a theatre for two reasons. The first is the woman’s reaction in the video below as she leaves the theatre. She entered the theatre as a committed climate change denier and she left a believer, and seemingly motivated to take action. That’s a powerful movie!

The second is the fact that it was part of the lead off story on the NBC Nightly News last week under the title “Meltdown.” The news report spent time with James Balog on his quest and makes clear in the news piece that this rapid, staggering ice melt is anthropogenic, or human caused. There was no alternative or opposing view provided. Our burning of fossil fuels caused this.

I believe Hurricane Sandy was a tipping point for news coverage of climate change. The major news organizations are headquartered in New York, which was in the bull’s-eye of this superstorm. They saw the storm surge, they experienced the power outage and they saw their subway flooded. This is now New York’s reality. Turns out rising sea levels are kind of a big deal. Hurricane Irene last year was bad enough with damage estimated at $15 billion. The last estimate I saw on the news was $100 billion for Hurricane Sandy. This storm was orders of magnitude more intense than anything people on the East Coast have ever experienced.

There was Governor Cuomo saying “This is a caused by global warming.” There was Mayor Bloomberg saying, “This is caused by global warming.” I think the news agencies are starting to get it.

Previously when there was a debate on climate change, news agencies felt they needed to provide a balanced perspective. So a climate scientist would get equal time with a pundit (often funded by the fossil fuel industry) who would offer the opposing point of view. Kind of like when there were a few scientists who just kept saying, “We’re just not sure that tobacco causes lung cancer” long after there really was no debate in the scientific community. If the news agency neglected providing the balance on global warming they heard about it on numerous fronts. If the debate was on an avian-flu pandemic being a major threat to North America you might see a dozen scientists on confirming this but for some reason the media never sought out a scientist that disagreed with this hypothesis. Surely there was one out there somewhere.

I think Hurricane Sandy turned the tide and convinced a lot of New Yorkers that we need to wake up and take action. In fact for a major U.S. network to lead off with the story of the record ice melt this year seems like a breakthrough. And it should be the lead story. Ultimately it should be the only story, every day, because it poses the greatest risk. Climate scientists are alarmed. Insurance companies are alarmed. Why isn’t the general public? The “Fiscal Cliff” is nothing compared to climate change, especially if you live anywhere near a coast. Or if you’re a farmer who likes rain for her crops. Or if you live in an area prone to wild fires, or tornados, or… In other words the single greatest threat to every North American is climate change, and yet our federal politicians are doing absolutely nothing about it. They don’t even want to talk about it.

Please find a way to see this movie. Think about signing up to host a screening of it in your community. There is a spot on their website to sign up to host one beginning in mid-2013. I don’t know how many people will come to our screening in Tamworth, but we’re going to host it anyway. Time is running out. I’ve known this for a long time. I’ve tried to articulate for a long time through various sources but the people who listen to my talks often don’t take the action we all need to. I’m not sure why this is. Many of them are parents. If their child were sick I doubt there is anything they would not do to help them. If they needed to remortgage their house, if they needed to give up a kidney, parents wouldn’t think twice. But stop burning natural gas in their furnace and install a geothermal heating and cooling unit? Well, that’s pretty expensive isn’t it? And natural gas is cheap right now. Somehow there’s this disconnect between the clear and present danger that climate change poses to their kids. It’s a really big deal. You’ve got to get cracking on this, NOW!

Just watch that interview with that woman who’s seen this movie. She’s going to do something! She doesn’t know what it is, but she is motivated. We all need to get motivated. Really motivated. And we need to do it yesterday.

Michelle’s Note: To find out where this film is screening near you, go to In Canada, go to and click on “Screenings” to see a list of Canadian dates, times and locations.



  1. Laurie Snider

    I echo all of your comments. Randy and I and our oldest son Curtis caught ‘Chasing Ice’ at the screening room in Kingston. It is a phenonemal movie although unlike the lady above we were already firmly convinced. We are also hoping to host a screening for our Green LIghts group and any one else who may be interested. I felt the same as you in the wake of hurricane Sandy and was also relieved I guess to see it finally be acknowledged as being due to climate change. The past couple of years have been tough for the movement with all of the lobbiest putting so much effort time and money into denial but Mother Nature as usual has a way of kicking everyone in the butt and getting the correct point across. Now what do we do about Harper and the Conservatives? I guess its about getting the other poinnt of view out there and keeping people in the know so they can make the right decisions. Good for both of you for staying so committed. I’m sure our paths will cross again soon.
    Until then like you I remain committed to bringing awareness to these issues.
    Laurie Snider


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