James Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), for proponents of the theory of global warming, is definitive proof that the world’s glaciers are shrinking, and shrinking permanently, as a result of the industrial world’s carbon production and altering of the global climate. There’s no arguing with this ongoing project’s stunning visual evidence of the collapse, shrinking, and withdrawal of glaciers from Greenland to Alaska, as captured in the new documentary Chasing Ice (opening today at the Main Art in Royal Oak and screened at the Windsor International Film Festival last month). Balog, an award winning nature photographer for publications like National Geographic, set up a couple of dozen computer-generated cameras that took continuous pictures alongside some of the world’s most famous glaciers, and collected the results. Numerous scientists add their scholarly weight to the images that provide stunning examples of what most experts agree is conclusive evidence that glaciers have retreated more in the last decade that they have since they were formed. Balog, who admits he was at one time a climate change skeptic, says that between 2007 and 2009 he saw a glacier that had been stable for 100 years “literally dying before my eyes.” In one time-lapsed visual, Alaska’s Columbia glacier retreats 2.5 miles over three years. Another in Greenland receded 11 miles. A University of Alberta scientist says of 1400 Yukon glaciers in 1958, four got bigger, more than 300 disappeared, and the rest got smaller. Images after images in time-lapsed sequence tell the story, which shocks Balog, who has since been invited to speak widely about his project and become an activist in the fight against global warming. Glaciers, he says, is “the canary in the global coal mine, it’s the place where you can see climate change happening.” EIS continues to document it including with a camera on Mt. Everest. Analyses of historic ice cores shows no significant changes in atmosphere for 800,000 years but when industrialization started and carbon generated, the CO 2 parts per million zoomed – at a pace of 100-1000 times, according to Dr. Synte Peacock. Balog says while the debate is settled in the scientific and policy making communities, the public’s “perception” of the risk is far behind, and that’s why his pictures are important. He says photography, “as much as anything is about raising awareness.” The documentary itself was made by Jeff Orlowski, who follows Balog on his trips through some of the bleakest, coldest and most awe-inspiring places in the northern hemisphere. There are stunning shots of glacial calving (breaking off into the sea) and moulins or glacier cavities where water pours as waterfalls and enters under ice rivers. Balog and his crew are tethered from the icy cliffs to capture these amazing shots. Balog describes the “miracle and horror” of these immense geological transformations. That’s a phrase with which I think we’d all agree.