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The Human Element

AVAILABLE OCTOBER 2021

the
HUMAN
ELEMENT

A Time Capsule from the Anthropocene

by James Balog

Essay by Anne Wilkes Tucker
Foreword by James Fallows


Hardcover / 456 pages / 350 color photographs / 12” x 16”


$85.00 U.S. / ISBN: 978-0-8478-7088-2


Rizzoli New York / ON SALE: October 2021

“This is a profound statement by a force of nature on the forces of nature. The scale, scope, and versatility of his vision is without compare.”

—Dennis Dimick, emeritus editor for the environment, National Geographic

“We depend on the stability of the fundamental elements of our world. An imbalance in the human element
leads to an imbalance in the other elements. People are the only element that can choose to restore balance…  
No boundary separates people from nature. In damaging nature, we are damaging ourselves. In protecting nature, we are protecting ourselves.”

– James Balog

In this magnum opus about human impact on our planet—from the threat of animal extinction to catastrophic wildfires, global warming as visualized through glacier melt, and the increased ferocity of historic floods and storms—world-renowned envi­ronmental photographer James Balog presents four decades of his innovative, ground-breaking photography in

THE HUMAN ELEMENT. Balog has traveled more than a million miles, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and from the Alps and Andes to the Himalaya. With images heightening awareness of climate change and endangered species, he is one of the most relevant photographers in the world today. This historic work is an environmental call to arms.

The evidence of our 21st-century environment, based on irrefutable and unmistakable evidence, is that human needs, behaviors, and technologies are radically changing the nature of nature. When Balog first started seeing the world through a camera, he was a typical environmental romantic—enraptured by the natural world, longing for philosophical and spiritual union with it, and wanting to celebrate its beauty and grandeur. But reality forced him to engage with other kinds of scenes. From that exploration, summarized in this monumental book, comes a new vision of the relationship between human nature and the rest of the natural world.

 Balog’s investigation of human tectonics gives us fresh understanding of how the forces and deeds of humanity reshape fundamental characteristics of our environment. With essays and poems on such topics as witnessing the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, ascending into the treetops to photograph the giant sequoia Stagg, spending time as a wildland firefighter, creating the incredible Extreme Ice Survey to photographically monitor glacier melt, and even struggling through his own battle with cancer, this definitive book is an unprecedented collection of photographic art informed by scientific knowledge. Featuring 350 of Balog’s most iconic images, The Human Element offers a truly unmatched view of our changing world—and a time capsule of humanity and our environment that may never be seen again.

About the Author

For nearly 40 years, photographer James Balog has broken new conceptual and artistic ground on one of the most important issues of our era: human modification of nature.

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 Emmy winning documentary Chasing Ice and in the 2009 PBS/NOVA special Extreme Ice. His 2018 award-winning film, The Human Element, which captures the lives of everyday Americans on the frontlines of climate change, has been screened worldwide. 

His photographs are housed in dozens of public and private art collections, including the Agnes Gund Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Denver Art Museum, the International Center of Photography, and Gilman Paper Company. They have been extensively published in most of the world’s major picture-oriented magazines, including National Geographic, Life, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times Magazine. National Geographic published feature stories about the Extreme Ice Survey in 2007, 2010, and 2013.

An avid mountaineer, Balog is the author of nine books; his latest, The Human Element: A Time Capsule from the Anthropocene, will be released October 1, 2021.  James has presented multimedia shows about his work at major public institutions like the U.S. Congress and United Nations, corporations like Apple and Qualcomm, and universities like MIT, Cornell, and Boston College.