By Global Journalist Staff Posted Jan 19 2011
James Balog was asked to take photographs for a three-part story on climate change for The New Yorker in 2004. This was the beginning of a new project for Balog, which resulted in Extreme Ice Survey, an organization that photographs the effects of climate change on glaciers around the world.
Balog has a master’s degree in geomorphology, which allowed him to spend six years researching climate change. He spent time on other projects, because he was unsure what he could do creatively with the topic. When he began working on The New Yorker stories, it opened his eyes to glaciers around the world and how climate change effects them, he says.
After working for The New Yorker, Balog worked on a cover article for National Geographic that further explored glaciers.
“Ideas are like eagles that grab you by the talons and drag you along,” Balog said.
Since then, Balog has been traveling the world, partnering with different organizations and photographing the effects of global warming on glaciers. He uses time-lapse photography to show the recession of glaciers in recent years. In the past year and a half, he has spoken with government officials about his project, including NASA, the White House, the National Security Administration, Congress and for the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen.
Balog said that no matter which group he talked to, the photos have wowed them.
Balog isn’t just stopping with Extreme Ice Survey either. He also runs Earth Vision Trust, which he founded this past summer. Earth Vision Trust grew out of Extreme Ice Survey, and it serves as a push to communicate current environmental issues through portfolios of events, such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, endangered animals, tectonic plates and humans and technology.
The goal of Earth Vision Trust is to partner images and words, dispersing the message of human’s effects on the planet through as much media as possible. When he’s doing his job right, he feels “champagne bubbles in the bone marrow of my bones.”
He’s also working on putting time-lapse cameras on dams being deconstructed, photographing Mayan ruins in the Yucatan and photographing air.
Balog was awarded a Missouri Honor Medal in 2010 for his work with Extreme Ice Survey. Balog also won a 2010 Heinz Award from the Heinz Family Foundation.
— Sarah Morris