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Doing something

Over the summer I visited my sister and her family in Minneapolis with my 6-year-old daughter Eden.  While I was there, we all watched the documentary Chasing Ice one afternoon when the kids needed a break from the heat and storms outside.  Chasing Ice follows a National Geographic photographer around the Arctic who is capturing the changing nature of glaciers through photos taken from the same spot every day for three years. 

The film not only shows us breathtaking cinematography and photography of ice and ice worlds, but also captures two things most people have never seen before.  The film shows us a compilation of still photos of a single glacier merged together and played like a movie, showing us a glacier moving fast like a river.  Until now, it’s been difficult to imagine a glacier as a moving body, a river of ice.  During the film, we also witness for the first time recorded on camera the calving of an ice sheet the size of Lower Manhattan as it tumbles, churns and rolls around in the sea for 30 minutes, so unreal you’d think it was special effects from a high budget sci-fi movie.

I thought the kids would enjoy the film for the cinematography and the mountaineering adventures.  What I didn’t expect was for the kids to pay so much attention to the science and message of the movie.  We ended up pausing and talking about the movie every few minutes, helping the kids understand what was happening and well, climate change.  For the first time, the kids were not just understanding climate change, they were “getting” it.

When the film was over, we all talked about it for a while.  My 10-year-old niece was feeling sad from her new perspective about the state of our planet.  She asked my sister and me, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything to fix it?”  I thought carefully how to answer the question since the answers are so complex.  And then it occurred to me, my sister and I are helping!  My sister was working for an energy efficiency consulting firm in the Twin Cities and I am developing energy efficiency programs for the Climate Protection Campaign.  For the first time, what my sister and I do for a living was relevant and important to our kids.  And they were thankful for our help and proud of us. 

It’s not often that people are thanked for the work they do, let alone in such a meaningful way.  I certainly never thought about Eden being proud of me for what I do.  In that moment, I felt such gratitude for the work I am doing here, and for the Climate Protection Campaign itself. 

I know that someday our kids will be my age, facing the crisis that we’ve left for them.  Displaced populations.  Flooded cities.  Extinct species.  Water and food shortages.  Natural disasters.  And since the impacts of climate change move slowly like a glacier in real time, it’s hard for people to think of climate change as a crisis.  And again I think about our kids in the future, feeling their eyes on me, asking “Why didn’t people do more?”  And I am comforted that they will know their moms did do something.  Their community did do something.

   – Amie Glass