Chasing Understanding

Shoot and run.

Shoot and run.

Data sets are hard to relate to.  If it's suggested you have 1:1700 chance of having a critical disease is hard to comprehend relative to a 1:17000 chance. They're wildly different, but feel similar. 

Responding to the threat of climate change faces the same challenge.  While the data is there and almost universally agreed in the scientific community, general publics are not engaging with the threats.  We react to dramatic tragedies such as mass shootings or missile tests, but struggle to rally in the face of greater, but more incremental, risk.  We're terrified of the hurricane, but not the deeper threat that's causing the hurricane.

Confronted with the disturbing reality that the scientific community was more fearful than the general public around the existentialist threat of climate change, the photographer James Balog set out to document through time lapse photography the terrifying retreat of glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, and, appropriately, Glacier National Park.  The project, named the Extreme Ice Survey, under the auspices of National Geographic, placed time lapse Nikon cameras in some of the most inhospitable parts of the planet to build a narrative proof of seriousness that the general public could relate to.


Your homework for a hot summer night...  Watch the documentary on Amazon, iTunes or Netflix.  Understand the issue and learn the technique of narrative translation.