By Ryan Kerr
Explorer, professor and filmmaker Mark Terry stopped by campus Sept. 28 for a screening of his documentary The Antarctica Challenge. Filming documentaries for over 20 years, Terry has achieved tremendous international acclaim for his work in Antarctica. He attributes the success of his film to a conscious effort not to push a heavy agenda.
“I just tried to get the facts across as plain as possible,” Terry said.
The Antarctica Challenge was the only film to be endorsed and shown at the UN summit for climate change last year in Copenhagen, an experience that Terry said carried much responsibility.
“It was a very unusually experience, to go around to 25 different delegations making that kind of impact and seeing direct results informing policy,” said Terry. “At first I felt like someone had made a mistake but than I realized it’s not about you, it’s about the information you have. Once I realized that I assumed the responsibly of delivering that message and then it became cool.”
Terry’s other notable projects of include We Stand On Guard, a documentary film about the history of the Canadian Forces, and George B, a finalist at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
The Antarctica Challenge highlights findings emerging in the scientific community from the frozen continent. According to the film and other experts, if the ice that covers the fifth largest landmass continues to melt ocean levels will rise considerably. The 1.6 kilometre thick ice over Antarctica differs from the Arctic because it is on top of a landmass, whereas the majority of ice in the Arctic is simply floating. Ice already in the water would not affect rising sea levels as much as ice that is on land, much like how ice cubes do not affect the volume of liquid in a cup because displacement has already occurred.
The documentary ends on a positive note illustrating the success of international agreements, such as the Montreal Accord, in preventing the hole in the ozone from continuing to grow.
Terry’s next film, The Polar Explorer, will see him and a team of scientists take a new route through the newly ice-free Northwest Passage. Terry will be publishing a regular column in Canadian Geographic about the trip.