It was so beautiful, but the photographer wishes it had never happened.
Perhaps everyone is tired of hearing about climate change, but it needs to continue to be discussed at length because changes to better the world and reduce the human causes of climate change are slow at best. With the current political climate, and with so much money flowing to giant corporations that benefit from the very practices that further global warming, efforts to combat the worsening climate have not only halted, but been totally reversed.
Photographer James Balog has been photographing and filming nature for several decades, but he didn’t actually believe in climate change until nearly 2005.
“I didn’t think that humans were capable of changing the basic physics and chemistry of this entire, huge planet. It didn’t seem probable, it didn’t seem possible,” Balog said.
For Balog, his eyes opened to the fact that climate change is real and lethal when he did a National Geographic-commissioned photo expedition in the Arctic that he says changed him.
Nearly ten years after this expedition, his documentary that’s aimed at providing irrefutable evidence that climate change exists, called “Chasing Ice,” premiered and began changing the opinions of viewers. The film is a visual testimony of his own, drastic shift as he gathered proof that the science behind the impending danger of climate change is factual and needs to be heeded.
While filming this documentary, Balog and his crew captured a scene that was equal parts terrifying and breathtaking when they pointed their cameras at a colossal glacier in Greenland. Most recently known as the Ilulissat Glacier, which is the one thought to be responsible for producing the iceberg that sank the Titanic, Balog knew that at some point during the day the glacier would calve.
Glacier Calving is when glaciers shed ice as a result of a rift being opened from wind, water erosion, melting ice, and other events that affect the glacier. Global warming impacts these glaciers because the increase in temperature of the Earth’s surface has caused the glaciers to rapidly shed ice; scientists say that this particular glacier now drops ice at a rate of three times that of the rate in the 1990s. The Ilulissat Glacier now sheds ice at a rate of 150 feet per day, which is why Balog knew that they would capture some glacial calving at some point.
They didn’t expect to capture the largest glacial calving ever recorded in history, but that’s exactly what they did. Glaciers thrust icebergs into the air during the calving process at about 200 feet and cause immense waves, which is why fishermen aren’t allowed to be within a couple miles of these glaciers; in this video, the icebergs were pushed into the air at around 600 feet, while the total height of the iceberg was approximately 3,000 feet, and the length of the ice being pushed out was an entire mile long. It’s estimated that what was shed was about the size of Lower Manhattan.
This event has been acknowledged and recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records. While it’s incredibly beautiful to watch, it’s horrifying knowing that the cause behind this excessive shedding of ice is climate change. Watch the video below to witness the calving yourself.