City Paper is not for tourists
National Geographic photographer James Balog was once skeptical of climate change, but his view quickly evolved when he saw for the first time his photos of a dramatically receding Arctic glacier. He then began the Extreme Ice Survey, an ambitious quest to deploy time-lapse cameras across the Arctic to capture shrinking glaciers over several years. Jeff Orlowski, a cinematographer working with Balog, has captured the project in Chasing Ice, whose many stunning visuals of ice melting rapidly might do the same to the hearts of climate-change deniers. Unfortunately, the stakes with which Orlowski sets up the film are not what drives the rest of story. Instead, Chasing Ice focuses on Balog’s struggles to complete his survey, from failing technology in sub-zero conditions to an injured knee requiring surgery to more personal kinds of doubt. But these hiccups feel inconsequential by the time Balog shares his findings with the world, receiving what we see only as wholeheartedly warm reception. We know, of course, that climate-change denial persists, and so we wonder: Can Balog’s work ever end?