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Extreme Ice

Jim Balog is one of the truly innovative photographers trying to tell us what is going on in our world. His earlier work Survivors: A New Vision of Endangered Wildlife, was a series of studio portraits of animals, many of them nearly extinct, presented as individuals in front of seamless paper. It was a way of getting to know them better so as to realize what we were in danger of losing. A subsequent project, Tree: A New Vision of the American Forest, again separated (if I might) the grandeur of the tree from the surrounding forest.

Now his most important work, Extreme Ice Survey, is being published in a variety of formats. Extreme Ice is a project of several years combining Jim’s remarkable photographs of glaciers in rapid retreat with those made automatically, every daylight hour, by Nikon cameras positioned on remote ice cliffs throughout the globe.

No one may have done more in the history of photography to make us realize the depth and rate of change that this planet is experiencing. Any climate change conference from now on will need to feature his imagery to make concrete what previously was often viewed as a statistical abstraction. See the Nova special this coming Tuesday on his work, and listen to Jim on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” program. Or get the book, Extreme Ice Now.

But most of all, let’s figure out what still can be done to preserve the planet we inhabit.

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