Last week I went to see the documentary Chasing Ice at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios. It is an excellent film that follows the attempts of James Balog and his team to photograph receding glaciers in Alaska, Greenland and other parts of the Northern hemisphere. At one stage during the process Balog poignantly suggested that his photographs would be the last remnants of an extinct landscape, that without them no one will ever see this part of the Earth again. It is a topical point at the moment, as the world slowly begins to wake up to the idea that many of humanity’s changes can’t be undone. It is also why I am such a fan of acoustic ecology and of the work of soundscape recordists. Like Balog, they are capturing tiny fragments of the world for others to experience. Bernie Krause has said that many of the sonic environments he has recorded over the years have now disappeared. We live in a visual society and so pictures will attract attention more easily than sound, but the work of projects like this should also be treasured.
As an aside, following on from my Earthsong post, last December was the 40th anniversary of ‘The Blue Marble’ photograph, and here is a wonderful short film discussing the impact that those photographs had on our relationship with the planet.