Dear Activist’s Diary…”Chasing Ice” & Our Melting Planet


Please go see the incredible documentary “Chasing Ice”

“Think Globally, Act Locally” was my week’s theme.

Twice this week I saw the documentary “Chasing Ice,” which I believe will help reinvigorate environmental activism on climate change issues once it reaches wider distribution. Photographer James Balog, creator of the Extreme Ice Survey, set up time lapse cameras in multiple locations around the world to document the rapid disappearance of our world’s glaciers, so those of us who will not travel to Iceland, Greenland, etc., can see huge, magnificent glaciers “calving” and falling into the ocean for ourselves.

Combined with scientists’ compelling explanations of why this is caused by industrialization and how it is affecting our weather patterns and our ability to sustain life on our planet, I was left with the overwhelming sense that – as Balog puts it – we are in the middle of witnessing geologic changes of historic proportions – not something that only happened thousands of years in the past, but is happening right now.

I also left with the overwhelming feeling that almost nothing else matters as much, if we  cannot keep our planet alive to sustain human life. Or, as prescient comedian George Carlin said (paraphrasing) – there’s nothing to say that humans are supposed to outlive cockroaches. I have repeated that line kiddingly for years, but “Chasing Ice” brings an intense gravitas and urgency to the problem of global warming/climate change. I saw it a 2nd time to watch without crying throughout.

As an activist, my mind was churning throughout the film: “What can I do – in a big way – to raise awareness, to get our lawmakers to pay attention – what can I do?” Throughout the week, there were reminders that awareness starts in our own backyards.

British industrialization

  • Sierra Club wants us to sign a petition to urge Chicago City Council to embrace clean energy as a follow up to citizens voting for the ballot referendum for the city to purchase power for residents. They are urging this plan to eliminate coal from the energy mix, double the amount of the renewable energy that the city purchases in its energy mix &  secure resources from the chosen energy provider to be used to incentivize solar installations around the city.  Sign the petition here.
  • I indicated that I would be happy to meet with my alderman about this. I would love to watch “Chasing Ice” with him as well.
  • Chicago’s influential Mayor Rahm made another one of his defensive and arrogant remarks:  in response to questions about the expected CTA fare increase, he chided that CTA riders could instead drive a car to work.  He has since refused to back down from his comments, which remind us of the bubble politicians live in and how it us up to their constituents to remind them that not everyone can afford a car, wants a car, and if those who want one drove them, no one would be able to move an inch on our streets, much less breathe. Send a note to the Mayor,  like I did, if his ignorant and careless remarks concern you.
  • I contacted a local education/activism organization to see if there could be some collaborations involving Chasing Ice.

Enormous problems call for enormous response, but my reminder this week was that it is easier to look around my immediate environment for how I could make an impact.

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