The Measure of a Fog: Finale

In a yearlong exploration, filmmaker Ian Cheney visited the profound scale of climate change in all its dimensions — scientific, political, moral.

In a yearlong series of short films for Undark, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ian Cheney, whose works include documentaries like “King Corn,” “The Search for General Tso,” and “The City Dark,” turned his lens on climate change and the scale of the challenge facing humanity — from the scientific and technical to the emotional, psychological, and political. Cheney doesn’t pretend to offer answers or specific solutions; he only seeks to shine a light into the fog, to look for shapes and patterns, and ultimately to explore the many reasons why the problem of climate change is so difficult for humanity to even fathom, much less come together to solve.

Above is a 12-minute compilation of Cheney’s six short films in his series for Undark, “Measure of a Fog.” We also encourage visitors to explore each of the six installments, which are individually titled “Distance,” “Carbon,” “Energy,” “Geoengineering,” “Politics,” and “Ethics.”

“The very concept of ‘climate’ challenges the human mind,” Cheney noted at the outset of the series. “Its epochal timescales are difficult to fathom, its inner mechanics, rhythms and contours — they’re sometimes hard to discern, and even scientists are still trying to understand it all.

“Meanwhile,” he continued, “the changes we’re making to this immense, complex machinery — changes arising from a colorless, odorless gas tied to positive-sounding things like progress and growth and prosperity — it can all seem placeless and everywhere at the same time, both invisible and plain as day.”

Exploring and admitting to those tensions and ambiguities, Cheney suggests, is an important part of any conversation on where we go from here — perhaps the most important part. We hope you will find them useful as you continue your own discussions on this most crucial topic.

Top visual: R A Kearton/Getty
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2 comments / Join the Discussion

    Chastising the buyers of high emitting vehicles is too broad. If one drives a few hundred miles a year then buying a high emitting used vehicle is the BEST way to help the planet because otherwise that vehicle would be driven far more miles and emit far more GHGs. What’s already built is already built.

    Just saying.


    “This is a moral problem not just a scientific problem”, Cheney says. And, frankly, from the person who buys a high emitting vehicle, the auto manufacture that makes it, the government that fails to take the drastic action necessary to regulate serious reductions in emissions, are morally tepid. The positively evil bastards in power, and the corporations, who promote their short-term interests over the long-term effects on future generations with a time effect that matches the existence of past civilisations, are nothing less than the merchants of evil.

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