Extreme Ice NOW: Vanishing Glaciers and Changing Climate, published by National Geographic in 2009, includes essays by award-winning author/photographer James Balog, along with photos taken at the world's glaciers from 2006 - 2009, documenting their dramatic reduction in volume. Focusing primarily on the disappearing glaciers in Iceland and Greenland, Balog documents his involvement in the establishment of the Extreme Ice Survey, in 2007. He also explains how he and his crew, collaborating with other image-makers and scientists, continue to maintain twenty-seven time-lapse cameras at eighteen locations around the world, where they have been taking images of the diminishing glaciers and sea ice once an hour for every hour of daylight since spring, 2007.
Many of these hundreds of thousands of photographs become the time-lapse films in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival's award-winning film Chasing Ice. How Balog and his crew chose their sites, the engineering that is required of cameras to survive for up to two-and-a-half years at minus forty degrees, with winds of up to one hundred sixty miles per hour, and how they are powered are also discussed.
Aiming this book at readers in the United States, since the US is the biggest per capita consumer of carbon, he points out that we cannot deny the reality of climate change (which his photographs and film clearly document). As Sir Nicholas Stern of the World Bank has shown, we must reduce our carbon consumption now, along with our dependence on oil, or the economic costs of fixing the problem will increase exponentially. If we do not reduce consumption and the "techie visionaries" seeking alternative energy sources fail in their efforts, however, "Most glaciers in Switzerland will be gone by 2100 if ice melt continues at its current pace of three percent a year." Some islands are already in danger from rising oceans, and coastal areas throughout world are noticing significant flooding in times of weather crises.
"In terms of climate change," Balog says, "I sense that we may be at what I call a `Berlin Wall moment,' a time when obdurate and seemingly permanent barriers [to fixing the problem] can collapse....I must will myself to believe that we, the people, are now waking up and will do the right thing." Incomparable photography, combined with incontrovertible evidence regarding global warming and climate change, make this not only memorable but crucially important for all citizens of the world.