Chasing Ice

It has now been close to 48 hours since seeing the movie Chasing Ice, the much talked about climate change film that has documented the disappearance of glaciers over the last several years.  It was an incredible and unforgettable film experience.  There are many levels of thinking and lessons that can be drawn from the film for those of us that make a living in an industry driven by science.  If you haven’t had a chance to see the film it should be a “must do” for the holidays.  The premise of the work being done that led to the film is that dozens of cameras were set up in Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and even Montana.  Those cameras took a snapshot once an hour during the daylight hours for years.  When piecing these photos together there was dramatic change seen in the landscape as the ice disappeared.  For a brief taste of the film look at the trailer on their website where you can also see a list of the venues that are showing the film.

I want to explore the film on three levels.  The first is perhaps the most obvious and that is the impact climate change is having on our world.  So many in our industry have been devastated by the impact of both Irene and Sandy.  Our friends in the Midwest have seen massive increases in tornadoes and those in the West have been struck with wildfires.  We all have been impacted by drought over the last few years.  The film actually does very little talking and shows only a few statistics.  It does show how the gasses trapped in the glaciers demonstrate that the level of carbon dioxide is clearly tied to the temperature and even though there have been fluctuations over the years those levels are now going out of control.  The second piece of data they show is that in looking at well over a hundred glaciers only three or four have grown in size while dozens have disappeared and the vast majority have gotten smaller.  Most of the film is visual where everyone can see for themselves, without explanation, just what is happening.

I was also struck by how clearly and beautifully the photographers were able to get their story across.  I couldn’t help comparing the way they laid out their scientific story with the way our industry communicates with our customers.  The facts seem so clear in the movie whereas it seems we have difficulty explaining even the most basic product advantages to our customers.  The story is simple while those in our industry are often convoluted.  The results of the argument are visible while ours often need to be figured out by the customer.  The filmmakers took considerable risk when doing their work and telling their story while we try to avoid all risk.  If it wasn’t for the overall importance of the climate change story I would call this the perfect example of how science can be communicated in a way that both informs and motivates the viewers.  Isn’t that exactly what we are trying to do with our advertising and promotion?

The third level where the film struck me had to do with the passion the scientists had for their work.  They started with a hypothesis and a point of view but as the results of their work became so obvious they seemed to drive on even harder.  They knew they were proving something that even the most hardened skeptics would have a hard time arguing against.  There was no way they could stop their work despite the physical pain and the unbelievable hardships caused by the harsh environments where the work was being done.  You could see that special drive in them that told you that what they were doing was not only important but that it demanded our attention.

Think about some of these things as you return from the Thanksgiving break.  How passionate are you about your work?  Can others feel that passion and want to become a part of it?  Are you able to build your business arguments in a way that is both breathtaking and compelling at the same time?  Are you working on work that matters?  Are you looking at the big issues impacting our world and trying to make a difference?  We work in an industry where science matters.  Do we embrace science or diminish it by using gimmicks and cliches rather than facts?  Take a minute to think about what you are chasing and then determine if it is really worth your life’s effort.

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