On Earth Day, April 22, 2015, the Environment, Science, Technology, and Health (ESTH) unit of the U.S. Embassy organized a screening of Jeff Orlowski’s documentary film “Chasing Ice” at the American Cultural and Information Center. The Fresh Water Institute of Mongolia co-organized the event. The film depicts American photographer James Balog and his team as they document the world’s vanishing glaciers.
Many young people, mostly students, and some climate change researchers attended the event. A panel discussion focusing on water and climate change issues in Mongolia followed the film. Z. Munkhtsetseg, professor at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of the National University of Mongolia; G. Anar, hydrologist at the Fresh Water Institute; and, Ts. Gerelt-Od, an officer with the Climate Change Coordination Office in the Ministry of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism, comprised the panel.
Mongolia is a country especially vulnerable to climate change. Temperatures have increased at roughly three times the global average since 1940, according to Mongolian officials. During the panel discussion after the film, the audience discussed passionately both problems and solutions to Ulaanbaatar’s climate change challenges. One young participant commented on how the film opened her eyes to the seriousness of climate change and its consequences. Another participant was very interested in knowing more about how temperature changes are affecting water resources in Mongolia.Another theme raised during the discussion was the need to raise awareness among the general public and non-scientists, and, most importantly, to educate people about what individuals can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Many audience members said that initiating a discussion about climate change through Balog’s pictures and images was far more persuasive and understandable than showing technical charts, graphs, and numbers. Even the researchers who attended the event said the film was impressive and opened their eyes. One suggested the film be shown to more Mongolian researchers and climate change experts.