Tonight on "Vice": Greenland is Melting

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YouTube / HBO

Vice is a documentary series on HBO. It builds on the success of Vice's web presence (indeed, I've covered some of their online films before), and it employs a style of first-person journalism that's often engaging and sometimes shocking. Tonight's episode covers two topics: the melting glaciers of Greenland, and modern-day slavery in Pakistan. Here's a 40-second preview of the full episode:

Greenland is Melting

The Greenland segment attempts to put some scale to the concept of climate change. In the film, Vice co-founder Shane Smith heads to Greenland and sees firsthand what massive melting looks like. In one memorable scene, Smith stands with climatologist Jason Box, who is measuring the annual melt by burying long metal poles and returning the next year to see how much ice has melted away. As they stand there, Box explains that from last year to this year, the spot they're standing on has descended by 27 feet. Writing that, it doesn't mean much, it's just numbers. Seeing it, you get a real sense of scale—these two lonely guys on a huge sheet of ice, all of which is melting rapidly.

The Greenland segment puts out some useful facts and figures. For instance, if Greenland melts entirely, it will (by itself) account for a global sea level increase of 21 feet. That puts most major coastal cities well underwater...and it doesn't account for Antarctica, which is melting too. While alarming, the segment is not alarmist, and it's well done—gets in fast, gets the job done, and gets out of there. They make the point that while some forms of climate change benefit certain populations (increasing rainfall in an area, for instance), sea level rise helps no one. Here's a clip from the Greenland segment:

Slavery in Pakistan

The second segment of tonight's show covers a form of indentured servitude that amounts to modern-day slavery. In Pakistan, families get pulled into making mud bricks in order to pay off small debts. Predictably, the debts never go away, and the families are prevented from leaving their servitude, largely because the brickworks are located in the middle of nowhere (with no means of transportation and no place to run toward, plus no help from the police, it's a grim situation). In the segment, Vice correspondent Fazeelat Aslam travels to Pakistan and rides along with a local activist trying to free these workers. During the segment, a large family attempts to escape slavery (quite literally), and you'll have to tune in to find out what happens. Here's a clip:

When to Watch

Tonight's show debuts Friday, March 21 at 11pm on HBO. It airs again at 12:30am, and again a bunch of times over the following week on HBO and HBO2. (Basically, if you get HBO, you will be able to find an air date.) For more on Vice, check out their HBO site. You can also watch the first episode of Season 2 online for free to get a taste of what the series is like.

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March 21, 2014 - 12:00pm
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