James Balog

Keynote Presentation | The Human Element

James Balog

For almost 40 years, photographer James Balog (“BAY-log”) has broken new conceptual and artistic ground on one of the most important issues of our era: human modification of nature. An avid mountaineer with a graduate degree in geography and geomorphology, James is equally at home on a Himalayan peak or a whitewater river, the African savannah or polar icecaps.

His new film, The Human Element, is an innovative and visually stunning look at how humanity interacts with earth, air, fire and water. Its world premiere was at the San Francisco Film Festival in April.

To reveal the impact of climate change, James founded the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) in 2007. It is the most wide-ranging, ground-based, photographic study of glaciers ever conducted. The project was featured in the internationally acclaimed documentary Chasing Ice and in the 2009 PBS/NOVA special Extreme Ice. One YouTube video clip from Chasing Ice has received more than 40 million views. Chasing Ice won an Emmy in 2014 and was shortlisted for the Academy Awards. It has been screened at the White House, U.S. Congress, Great Britain’s House of Commons, the United Nations, and major international science and policy conferences, including COP-15 in Copenhagen and COP-21 in Paris. NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, and NPR have done features on his work, as have David Letterman, Bill Maher, and Bill Moyers.

James is the author of eight books. His images have been collected in dozens of public and private artcollections—and extensively published in the world’s magazines, particularly National Geographic.

James leads The Human Element at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, February 22.