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Chasing answers on climate change

Don’t miss the screening of Chasing Ice, an award-winning documentary that captures the melting of the Arctic ice cap.

The level of certainty among scientists that human activity is affecting the global climate has increased, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Predictably, the level of rhetoric from climate change deniers has also increased.

It may be a good time for the screening of Chasing Ice, an award-winning documentary that captures what has been billed as the biggest story in human history: the melting of the Arctic ice cap. The film is being screened in the auditorium of the YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre near Orillia during the Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA) annual conference and the public is welcome to attend. The film will be shown Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. Admission is free, though donations to support OLTA’s land conservation work are appreciated.  If possible, reserve your seat in advance by e-mailing admin@olta.ca or calling 416-588-6582.

The film follows environmental photographer James Balog as he works to gather visual evidence of the big melt. Balog began as a climate change skeptic when he set out for the Arctic in 2005 on assignment with National Geographic. But he returned with eyes open. Organizing The Extreme Ice Survey, he returned to the Arctic with cutting-edge time-lapse photographic equipment and deployed them to capture a record of decaying glaciers over several years.

Facing brutal conditions, the team captures the breathtaking collapse of mountains of ice that rival the Empire State Building in size.  The footage makes an interesting companion piece to the IPCC report, which draws conclusions about climate change based on the work of thousands of scientists around the world. The IPCC says in its latest report that it is “extremely likely” that climate change is being driven by human activity. That’s stronger language than the last report which said we were “very likely” the cause. According to the metrics used by the panel, that means an increase in certainty from 90 to 95 per cent. The Huffington Post points out that is the same degree of certainty scientists use in telling the public that smoking kills.

There has been much mileage made out of the fact that warming has not kept pace with some of the model predictions of earlier IPCC reports, but even a cursory read reveal that such variability is inherent in the process.

The Ontario Land Trust Alliance, which is holding its annual conference at Geneva Park Oct. 9-11, represents dozens of land trusts. This three-day event attracts environmental organizations from across the province to meet and learn from each other through a series of structured workshops, many of which offer valuable insights for charities in other sectors as well. For more information on the conference go to www.olta.ca.

Like The Couchiching Conservancy, these organizations are moving beyond debate and taking action to protect natural areas now in anticipation of tough times ahead. They are working on reasonable responses to climate change by securing as much biodiversity as possible and directly addressing the impacts of human activity on the landscape.

Action is one of the best responses to that increasing sense among so many of us that climate change is too big, too overwhelming to address. Don’t pull the covers over your head. Read the IPCC report first-hand here. Take advantage of the rare opportunity to see what is actually occurring in the Arctic on a big screen. Then make your own decisions.

Written by Mark Bisset