Vanishing world: James Balog in his new award-winning documentary Chasing Ice. *Photo supplied
Vanishing world: James Balog in his new award-winning documentary Chasing Ice. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, NOV. 09: National Geographic photographer James Balog has dedicated the past several years of his life capturing timelapse images of the melting ice caps to help “tell the story of the earth’s changing climate.”

The resulting award-winning film Chasing Ice is to be shown by the Department of Energy as part of the Caricom Energy Week taking place from November 11 to November 17.

During the week there will also be presentations on energy efficiency and conservation, an awards ceremony for the energy saving Limbo Competition run by the department, as well as a Lunch and Learn titled Understanding Your Energy Bill and Fuel Purchases Embedded Costs and Inventory. All these events are free to the public.

Balog risked life and limb during his expedition in the brutal Artctic battling subzero conditions. It took years for him to capture the undeniable evidence of climate change.

For many people it is hard to connect their everyday energy consumption with the destruction of the planet but the film might help us to join the dots.

Director of Energy Jeane Nikolai told the Bermuda Sun: “The movie just captures why we are even bothering with any of this it is not like Bermuda makes a great deal of difference worldwide but this is what happens when we buy and consume stuff that we don’t need when we drive cars that are too big. It is like the cumulative effect. It is not a happy feel good movie.

“That’s why I think people really need to see it to get what is really happening out there because if we can manage ourselves better out here there is no excuse for a bigger country with fewer challenges than we have to do better.

“I am hoping that people will take it in the vein of inspiration. I thought it was incredibly moving because it really embodied everything about what we are trying to do here in The Department of Energy and why we should care so deeply about it.”

Chasing Ice has picked up a string of almost 20 industry awards including Excellence in Photography at the Sundance Film Festival, and Best Documentary at the Environmental Media Association.

The Hollywood Reporter put it this way: “Aesthetics and eco-advocacy are a perfect match in Chasing Ice, a doc so stuffed with eye-soothing images one prays it can seduce a climate-change skeptic or two.

“With vistas made for the big screen and an engaging personality at its center, theatrical prospects are better than those of the usual eco-crisis film…”

Energy Week not only aims to highlight how energy efficiency can help to prevent the slow destruction of our planet, but, closer to home, it aims to show us how it can help us to save money.

The Lunch and Learn presentation on November 15th for instance will cover information on BELCO’s new billing format to show you more clearly how your money is spent. It will explain the new fuel charge that, while many see it as a money making initiative, actually aims to smooth out the price peaks that happen over the year and help customers to budget their money better.

“A lot of people think it is a profit centre for BELCO but it is not,” said Nikolai. “The idea is to smooth out the pricing spikes that happen — the peaks and valleys so you can budget better. It’s more for people who are on a budget or companies who budget because then you can anticipate more closely what your energy bills are going to be from month to month. If energy costs followed oil prices exactly one month it can be 19c then next it could be 16c or less. It fixs it so nobody’s out of pocket by the end of the year.”

An energy efficiency and conservation talk on November 14 includes information on individuals’ electric bills as well as the awards ceremony for the Limbo Competition. The competitors have been vying to save the most energy which they measure using a “real time monitor” that is attached to their electricity meter. These are commercially available to anyone wanting to track their exact consumption. The department is looking for participants for next year’s competition  — prizes include free real time monitors with an overall prize of a $600 C-Travel voucher.

Energy Week will also include information on alternative sources of energy including solar. Nikolai said: “One thing we should all be using in our homes is solar water heating — it is the biggest no-brainer. It pays for itself in about no longer than 18 months and these units have been known to last for 20 years.”

Nikolai explained how Energy Week came about: “CARICOM announced that this would be Energy Week last year.

“I thought if they are highlighting energy or a week we should jump on that momentum. The whole idea of the week is to build that momentum. We are doing it on a shoestring but we want to see how much uptake there is in the community.

Wednesday November 14th 5.30pm – 8:30pm: There will be a short (30 minute) presentation on Energy Efficiency and Conservation at 5:30pm followed by a brief Prize Giving Ceremony for the winners of the Energy Limbo Competition at 6:15pm and then at 7pm the film Chasing Ice will be shown. Light refreshments will be provided. Cathedral Hall
Thursday November 15th 12.15pm – 1.15pm: Lunch and Learn with BELCO – ‘Understanding Your Energy Bill’ and ‘Fuel Purchases, Embedded Costs and Inventory’– Cathedral Hall
Thursday November 15th 1:15pm – 2:15pm: Energy Conservation/Efficiency Presentation By the Department of Energy Cathedral Hall