Water and its sources have historically been the key factor in the establishment of cities, of civilizations.  Along rivers, seas and downstream of mountain snowmelt, humans have depended on these seemingly endless supplies of water since the dawn of recorded history.  But we are at a critical point in the environment and mankind’s existence.  Farmers are having to adapt to the increasingly more difficult weather patterns.  Populations are relocating in a search for potable water and the infrastructure of large cities is becoming overwhelmed by this population influx.

GLACIAL BALANCE takes us from Colombia to Argentina, getting to know those who are the first to be affected by the melting glacial reserve, the canaries in the mine. Along the way, we are accompanied by scientists who give us a perspective on what is happening in the natural world, and from that, we learn of the chain reaction effect these disappearing glaciers are having worldwide.  The film offers the viewer an opportunity to hear, in the locals’ own words, the human impacts of a climate out of control.  From coffee, potato, and quinoa farmers, to fruit and wine exporters, and even miners of sacred glacial ice blocks near the Equator, GLACIAL BALANCE offers the viewer a chance to visit some of Earth’s most distant, inaccessible, and spectacularly beautiful landscapes.

The film shows a global interconnectedness, causing a human to human connection to the changing world around us.  It entertains, teaches and provides a piece to reflect upon, bringing these images and stories of climate change, drought, famine, and migration to the forefront of public consciousness.  Ultimately removing the anonymous stigma often associated with the cause and serving as a means to instigate change that depends on every one of us to make.

Why This Story?

Andes snowmelt accounts for roughly 80% of the water supply for Andean cities, including drinking water, irrigation and hydro-electric power.

Evidence suggests that most of the Andean tropical glaciers will disappear in our lifetimes, some having disappeared completely this past year.

As the lack of water increases, millions will be required to migrate for mere survival, causing a chain reaction across societies around the world.

Industries to be affected by the declining glacier reserve include the electric industry, viniculture, and import/export of off-season fruits.

As water reserves cause mass migration, tensions are expected to rise as battles for natural resources increase.

My motivation in making this film began as a means of grasping the importance of glaciers in my own life. I was living in Mendoza, Argentina and after receiving several chain letters about a proposed mine in the Andes and its alleged effects on nearby glaciers, I became intrigued. The country went through a process of enacting a glacier protection law, and during that same time I took off on an exploration to understand more about these natural water reserves. The more I learned, I realized how little society is aware of the workings of the natural world and felt that through stories of human impact, an emotional connection can be made to climate change. The film plants the stories and ideas of these individuals’ lives in the viewer’s mind, not just numbers and graphs, causing a human to human connection to the changing world around us.

-Ethan Steinman