Framing Statement

English 110 has both clarified and enhanced my knowledge on how to approach, compose and revise drafts of written prose not only when writing essays for English but also when completing writing assignments for other courses. Pasted below is a critical film review of the documentary Chasing Ice, a writing assignment that I completed this semester for my environmental class. When the class was assigned to write the review, I initially made no connection between this writing assignment and those that I had completed in English 110; in my mind at the time, the two courses were separate entities and therefore shared no similar academic methods or techniques. However, when I found myself struggling to produce a flawlessly scripted film review on the first try, I realized that many of the techniques I had learned to apply when writing papers for English 110 could also be applied to this environmental writing project.

To begin, as I had learned in English 110, I reminded myself that writing is meant to be a recursive process that requires many small steps to reach the ultimate goal of a polished final draft. Therefore, I postponed the drafting process of my film review and decided to return to square one of writing any paper: brainstorming. To begin the brainstorming process, I reviewed the notes I had taken while watching the film and started to develop the overarching argument I wanted to articulate throughout my critical review. I formulated an angled and specific thesis, constructed claim sentences, and identified evidence from the film that could be used to support and advance my argument. With a newly constructed outline laid out for me to follow, I returned to the drafting process of the review with both expectations and intentions to revise my work many more times.

English 110 has bettered my academic writing by helping me to understand that when  incorporating outside sources into my own writing, as will be required of me many times throughout my academic career at UNE, I am essentially entering a written conversation amongst scholars.  Steven Pinker speaks to the importance of entering a written conversation in his work titled, “Why Academics Stink at Writing,” an article analyzing the reasons for poor academic prose. On page three of the article, Pinker agrees with scholars such as Francis-Noёl Thomas and Mark Turner who claim that, “every style of writing can be understood as a model of the communication scenario that an author simulates in lieu of the real-time give-and-take of a conversation.” In other words, similar to a spoken conversation, the written essay is meant to give opportunity for each voice, including that of the writer, to be heard. Therefore, as I wrote my environmental film review, I made sure to give voice to the ideas and opinions discussed in the film as evidence to support my own arguments. As I had learned in English 110, I acknowledged these outside academic voices with which I was interacting while making sure to let my own ideas and arguments drive the paper.

As I continue my collegiate education, I can write academic essays that do not “stink” by reminding myself to recognize that there is a direct relationship between the techniques used for writing in English 110 and the techniques used for academic writing across all other disciplines.


Text from Another Course

Bri Walker

Dr. Kate Bishop

Environmental 104 C

19 October 2017

Chasing Ice:

Evidence that Humans are the Cause of Global Warming

     Chasing Ice is a documentary that follows photographer and geomorphologist James Balog on his journey to provide irrefutable, photographic evidence that global warming is the cause of the world’s rapidly melting glaciers. A firm advocate for the idea that seeing is believing, Balog has set out to give climate change an alternative voice through photography. His idea is that if people can see visible evidence of climate change, they will be more likely to acknowledge its existence.In the process of merging science with art, Balog founded EIS: The Extreme Ice Survey. Through EIS, Balog’s team of scientists and engineers have designed and installed specialized timelapse cameras in well known glacier areas such as Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and Montana. The goal of these cameras is to photograph changes in the glacial landscape over time. Throughout the movie, Balog returns to the cameras frequently to compare “before” and “after” photos of the glaciers. As the movie progresses and Balog reveals the images that the cameras have captured in just a few short years, it becomes shockingly evident that glaciers are retreating, melting, calving and all together disappearing in a shorter period of time and on a grander scale than ever seen before. This unprecedented deterioration of the world’s ice  is not only evidence that the planet is warming but moreover evidence that humans are the cause of this warming.

     The only possible explanation for glacial melting on the scale and distribution documented in Chasing Ice is that the planet is warming. As is discussed in the film, there are many climate change deniers that believe that our planet is not warming but rather experiencing a natural increase in temperature. These naysayers claim that since Earth has experienced climate variability since the beginning of time, what we are seeing now is nothing more than a natural increase in temperature. According to scientists and climatologists in Chasing Ice, however, a natural fluctuation in climate could not possibly account for the severity of glacier retreat we are now seeing. To support this assertion, the scientists discuss how in the past, with natural fluctuations of the climate taken into consideration, glaciers would recede and melt but would still advance and refreeze come winter time. However today, instead of the glaciers refreezing in the winter and gaining back lost ground, they only continue to melt. Evidence for this can be seen in Balog’s before and after photographs. Therefore, this extreme recession of ice, scientists conclude, is not the result of natural climate variation but rather the result of rising temperatures.

     Chasing Ice provides evidence to support that global warming  is caused by humans. When Balog and his team were exploring the glaciers, they found deep black holes in the ice that Balog refers to as “swiss cheese holes”. Filling these “swiss cheese holes” is cryoconite, a dusty mixture of soot and carbon that blows up into the atmosphere and eventually deposits itself deep into ice caps and glaciers. Cryoconite’s dark black color contrasting against white snow and ice causes it to absorb a great deal of heat from the sun. This absorption of heat results in the glacial ice around the cryoconite to melt more quickly. It is human activity such as industrialization and production that creates and emits the carbon and soot that make up the cryoconite that is melting the ice. Furthermore, much of the human produced carbon that does not become cryoconite instead remains in the atmosphere. Excessive carbon in the atmosphere prevents heat from the sun from escaping, trapping the heat within the earth and therefore raising earth’s temperature. This raise in temperature itself melts the ice and also contributes to more heat being absorbed by the cryoconite which melts the glaciers even faster. Human activity is the main cause for this greenhouse effect.

     In addition, the film points to ice cores as evidence for human fueled global warming. The purpose of drilling ice cores is to extract and analyze the contents of ancient ice from beneath layers of younger, newer ice sheets. By looking at the chemistry of ancient ice, scientists can determine how much CO2 was in the atmosphere at the time in history when that ice core was exposed to the air. Essentially, ice cores preserve climate records. According to the film, ancient ice cores demonstrate that there was only about 280 ppm of CO2 in the air. Current data from more recent ice cores show that CO2 concentration within the ice, and therefore the air, is up 40%. The culprit of this increase in CO2 ? Human activity. Since the dawn of industrialization, humans have been emitting excess amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. This CO2 is trapping heat from the sun within the atmosphere and therefore warming the planet.  Ice cores with lower concentrations of CO2 in ppm were more dense. Ice cores with higher concentrations of CO2 in ppm were less dense. This decrease in density is due to the ice melting because the increase in CO2 is raising earth’s temperature. Therefore, human activity is causing global warming which, in turn, is causing the ice to melt.

Link to Film Review in Docs: