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CU hosted a talk and presentation by writer and producer of the highly acclaimed documentary “Chasing Ice,” James Balog, at Macky Auditorium Monday. The film features one of climate change’s most credible pieces of evidence: glacier recession.
Due to its visual nature, Balog felt encouraged that if he were able to capture this evidence on film, he could reverse the beliefs of many climate change skeptics and, in doing so, make an indirect impact on the conversations and policies taking place on the urgent subject.
The event at Macky was not intended to highlight and publicize the film. Instead, the goal was to make a distinguishable connection between “the two halves of perception,” which were “art and science” according to Balog.
As the name of the event, “The Art of Chasing Ice,” suggests, Balog and his team certainly see the relevance in combining these two very complex subjects.
“Pure art is too concealed… I value the language of science, but when you combine them together it is a lot more effective,” Balog said. “Science gives us such an understanding of the world, but so little of it has gotten out to the public.”
He was hopeful that the aesthetic appeal of art could bridge that gap and climate change could be communicated in a creative and effective manner to a larger and more diverse crowd.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the event came when Balog admitted his own prior skepticism of climate change.
“It was inexcusable,” he said. “I thought all the evidence was based on computer models” before he realized that “no, it is empirical, physical evidence… Empirical meaning that you can touch it, it is right there.”
As he said this he motioned to the table that separated himself from the interviewer and knocked on it, creating a stark feeling of realism that resonated with the audience.
Here, it is important to recognize the relationship of climate change as a physical phenomenon as Balog describes above. For much of the human population, this can be a hard concept to grasp, especially for those living in primarily industrial areas. The problem that persists is that the connection between self and environment can feel minimal, sometimes non-existent in such places. Thus, the recognition of environmental degradation and destruction appears seemingly insignificant. Such a principle can be applied: if it does not affect me, it does not matter.
The work of Balog and his team, as well as many other artists who ground their productions in the facts of science, offer human society an insight into the real-life consequences that result from climate change and similar issues.
In Balog’s words, “If you breathe air, drink water, eat food, or pay taxes, climate change affects you.” Maybe science and art cannot directly solve the environmental crisis by introducing specificity towards policy, but then again “nothing really does… [at the very least] it certainly aids to the synergy.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ryan Martin at Ryan.email@example.com.