Vanishing Glaciers, Then and Now

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For years, photographer James Balog has been risking his life to document the receding of glaciers as climate change begins taking its toll at the earth’s extremities. These pairs of images from his new book, Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers, released last month by Rizzoli, show the transformation of glaciers in Switzerland, Canada, Iceland and Greenland since 2006.

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  • hhelsley

    These are fine illustrations of a real problem.
    Meeting the World’s Energy
    Challenge …

    RF Accelerator Driven Heavy Ion Fusion

    is a solution to the ‘energy need’ for the world and the US without generating
    green house gases or nuclear fission radioactive problems.

    It is Heavy Ion Fusion (HIF) as developed in the late
    1970’s at Argonne National Lab under the Department of Defense (DOD).

    You never heard of it, … right, few people have, … as HIF was
    set aside by the US DOD (& DOE) in favor of lasers, as lasers could, maybe,
    be a weapon and HIF could not be a weapon.

    Fusion was first suggested as a potential power source in the late
    1920’s. The first fusion reaction on earth was demonstrated in 1952. Then shown
    potentially doable in a small size, in 1976-9, at Argonne National Lab and
    Hughes Lab. Since then it has been endorsed for 35 years by the scientific
    community “as the conservative way to go” to develop fusion as an
    energy generation source … but never funded, as it was and is still BIG
    (expensive, prolific and “benign”). In 1980, the world did not need a BIG new
    carbon fee source of energy, as it does now. Fusion was put on the shelf or
    attached to research projects to see if it could be done in small (MW-GW) size.
    Fusion cannot be done small and be economical. Data suggests that fusion can
    produce 5 to 7 cents kWh electricity, $3.20 per/gal fuel, and $0.002 per gallon
    for potable water, all needed today and at a very reasonable unit price.

    In 2009, Fusion Power Corporation (FPC) with Dr. Robert J. Burke and
    Dr. Charles E. Helsley, applied for a patent using heavy ions as the energy
    source to fuse the Hydrogen isotopes Deuterium and Tritium to produce Helium
    and heat, lots of high quality heat. It solves the problems that
    Germany, Russia, Japan and America were having in focusing enough energy on the
    pellet (target) to cause fusion to occur, and to control the neutrons.

    In December 2010, the process was presented at the 18th HIF International Symposium in Darmstadt, Germany, along with an
    economic model. FPC took the meeting by surprise as the US has been void of
    serious HIF research for more than ten years.

    In May of 2011, FPC presented the process to the ‘Accelerators for
    Heavy Ion Fusion Workshop’ (AHIF) at Berkeley CA, sponsored by the Lawrence
    Berkeley National Lab and the Virtual National Lab (DOD & DOE). Again, the
    result was “now is the time to move forward …” with a fusion program
    … as there is now a world need for a new, large, carbon neutral energy
    source. But no program has been established.

    In August of 2012, FPC made presentations on the Single Pass RF
    Driver (SPRFD) at the 19th HIF International Meeting in Berkeley.
    They presented updates, showing the SPRFD process with support from current
    industrial suppliers. They presented the economic potential of SPRFD in
    providing synthetic carbon neutral liquid fuel, electric power and potable
    water. FPC showed that SPRFD is a transformational and disruptive technology,
    and ranks right along side a giant oil field as an energy producer. It’s unit
    prices are very competitive in today’s marketplace and provide a paradigm shift
    in energy production.

    The science has been done and it now is an engineering process.
    FPC’s SPRFD applies known and
    existing technologies, in unique and innovative ways, to provide the energy
    necessary for fusion to occur. FPC’s fusion power is much more developed than
    was rocketry in 1961 when JFK committed the nation (US) to go to the moon and

    ARPA-E has encouraged FPC
    to write a full project proposal on ignition simulation for fusion, a
    $10,000,000 proposal, which FPC has done; FOA 0670-4536. A decision from DOE’s
    ARPA-E was due in September 2012, but has been postponed until the middle of

    FPC, a California C Corporation, is an engineering design,
    implementation and licensing company. FPC’s mission is to provide the energy
    necessary for maintaining current levels of energy use
    (standard of living) and to provide opportunities for growth in the energy
    supply using fusion. FPC’s vision is the development of a fusion power source
    based on the use of the techniques of radio frequency (RF) accelerator-driven
    Heavy Ion Fusion (HIF) that were researched in the 1970’s; a technique that has
    repeatedly received scientific endorsement.[1] FPC’s primary
    goal is to translate the science vetted design of a RF accelerator-driven
    fusion power system, to one that can be brought on-line within a decade – each
    installation having an energy output equivalent to that of a giant
    oil field, without the depletion problem.

    FPC can produce per day, 500,000 bls of a carbon neutral synthetic
    liquid fuel (diesel-kerosene-gasoline), 15+ GW electric, and 2000+ ac/ft of
    potable water from sea water, all with no GHGs, no highly radioactive waste and
    no potential for a “run-away” nuclear meltdown, and all located where it is
    needed. FPC can also be eligible for carbon credits as it
    discharges no CO2 into the atmosphere.

    By 2050, fusion will be the source of most of the world’s
    energy. This is not wishful thinking, it is simply a way of stating that all
    other forms of energy that are based on the use of finite fossil fuel sources
    must decline in the next few decades. This decline will provide a major
    impetus for the rapid increase in the utilization of this new form of
    energy. Wind, solar, and bio fuels, are only “feel good solutions”
    of “We are doing something to solve the problem!”, when they have little
    possibility of generating the 14 TW needed in the next 40 years. I can
    show you the arithmetic.

    HIF is the ONLY practical answer for non-proliferation of atomic
    weapons and, may be the real way to world peace … non-aggression for national
    energy supplies and national security.

    Let us get moving to really solve the climate warming problem … not just
    ‘feel good efforts’!

    For more information and detail on FPC, visit
    and see the presentations on YouTube,
    “StarPower for Tomorrow” and
    Goggle Tech Talk, “Heavy Ion

    Inquires may be sent to:

    is Clean & Green … and Very Safe!

    [1] Physics Today, June 2010, Page 59; Physics
    Today, October 2010, Page 8; “35 Years of Endorsements” at
    ; AHIF reference papers.

  • Donna

    So very sad. It’s truly happening and at such an alarming rate! I used to be a scoffer but over the years have realised it is real and a tragic result of our flippant lack of concern and care of our environment. I play a part in this. We all do.

  • Maria Lasagna

    We have been hearing this happening for a while, we cannot give up on saving the earth for our future generations!!. I am aware that the damage is almost at a point of no return, but we need to continue demanding government and politicians to take a more aggressive action on this situation. I thank James Balog for his dedication, work and love for our mother earth.

  • Rationalist

    The climate is changing. It
    always has and always will. Consider that North America was covered by glaciers
    in the past. That part is not really debated by rational people. James
    documents that beautifully, but where does he suggest we go from there?

    Anyone who thinks humans can
    materially modify the direction of climate change (for good or bad) is giving
    humanity more credit than we deserve. For
    anyone willing to listen, respected climate scientist Roy Spencer gives a
    simple technical case for why the Climate Study Industrial Complex has missed
    the mark mostly to save their own jobs.

    For those like James who feel
    strongly about this, the course of action is clear. I respectfully suggest he
    stop using fossil fuels. It’s that simple. He won’t be able to make any more
    documentaries, but he will have “saved the planet.”

    When those who insist we stop
    climate change get serious in their own behavior, I’ll begin to take them

  • Eleanor H.

    Thank you, Bill, for this persuasive interview. I think climate change is the most important issue our world faces. If we lose our climate, nothing else will matter much in comparison. And we probably won’t be able to get our climate back.

  • Rahim Moosa

    Roy Spencer, a respected climate scientist!! Give me a break!
    And as far as changing one’s behavior is concerned, we are all plugged in to the system because our livelihoods depend on it. We need to fly because our jobs demand it. It is the assignment of costs to behavior that needs to change. If you have taken even a basic course in micro economics you learn human behavior is governed by costs and incentives. Let the cost of energy reflect its true cost.

    I think Las Vegas should come up with a bet on climate change which my descendants can collect on if I am right, and your descendants can collect on if you are right. I think that should settle the issue in short order.

  • rationalist

    OK. I like your suggestion. How much are you willing to pay to fill up your car and who will get the revenue over what it costs to produce that fuel? I volunteer at a homeless shelter and most of those people take public transport or walk, so that would make public transport more expensive so they would just walk more. That’s not horrible except most of those people can’t be picky about jobs and already have a hard time getting there each day on mutlple bus transfers. I do want to be in the room when you tell a homeless single mom that her bus fare just doubled to pay a lawyer who is suing the coal power plant that provides the electricity for the homeless shelter. She might be confused.

  • Richard Saunders

    Bill asked Mr. Balog if we weren’t almost at the point of no return. It’s unfortunate that so many in the media keep asking this question when the fact is that the world is way beyond the point of no return. When presidential elections in this country and the stability of the government in China are determined by the robustness of our economies then there will be no turning back from the continued exploitation of fossil fuels until the entire structure of our civilization is in ruin. If we think that the bursting of the housing bubble was bad, just wait until the full effects of the bursting of the benign climate bubble are felt around the globe. The positive feedbacks in the warming system are accelerating the process so much that every prediction as to the date of this or that climate event occurring is out of date moments after it is made. It’s long past the time when we could make course corrections to avoid disaster. We now must all decide how we will adapt to a rapidly changing and totally unpredictable climate.

  • Rahim Moosa

    Thank-you for your gracious reply. This is really where the conversation should begin, namely, how to solve the problem, keeping in mind the impacts of the solution on the economy and ordinary people. One suggestion due to Jim Hansen, called “Tax and Dividend”, is a carbon tax (at the point of sale of the fuel) that is returned _equally_ to all adult citizens. Thus, Al Gore’s energy extravagances will put money into the pocket of your single mum which would more than compensate for the carbon tax she pays on her train fare. I confess that I don’t get the whole picture with regard to this proposal, but it is a start.

  • rationalist

    Thank you for the thoughtful and honorable response. It is rare when someone admits they don’t know everything so you have earned my respect.

    If Hanson suggests we should re-distribute assets from the heavy CO2 creators to the low creators, geopolitical boundaries are irrelevant, since it is a global CO2 concentration you are trying to reduce. The only meaningful re-distribution (that ignores politics) would not only take contributions from Earth-Pigs like Al Gore, but from the American single Mum since she too generates more than the world-wide average. Those funds would go to an incredibly poor person in Bangladesh or Rwanda. This world-wide re-distribution of wealth might upset a few entrenched groups, and it would tend to bring the wealthy closer to the level of the poor…BUT, not sure how this helps reverse a CO2 trend since now that previously poor guy can buy that scooter he always wanted! has some amazing graphics on trends of Energy intensity vs. economic output, life expectancy, indoor plumbing; …the trends are essentially all the same. The more CO2 you emit, the higher your lifestyle. Will people willingly give up their lifestyle for the “pound wise” that you mentioned earlier? I’ve challenged many to stop using hydrocarbons who say they are willing to do “Anything” to save the planet, but no takers so far. So who do these people expect to make the sacrifice if they won’t do it themselves?
    You seem like the kind of person who can appreciate a discussion from the economic perspective. I’m sure you’ve read Lomborg’s Cool It, but I’m also guessing you didn’t buy it. (pun intended).

  • Rahim Moosa

    The possibility that you are afraid of is that a reduction in carbon footprint by the few at the high end could be balanced or even exceeded
    by increased carbon footprint by many at the low end (since they will
    have extra money to spend on it). From what you say above, one can probably assume that the carbon footprint of an individual is proportional to her net income. If so, the resulting equation for the carbon footprint of the total population can be written down (it depends on the income distribution and tax rate). Obviously, if the income distribution is flat there will be no change in total footprint. Unfortunately, my intuition fails me for other income distributions but I would think that the calculation has been done and that people know the answer to the question.

  • Anonymous

    I have no doubt that our consumption of fossil fuel is responsible for the shrinking glaciers. But, a new program on the Weather Channel has me thinking there are other contributing factors as well. The program, Ice Hunters, follows a company as it breaks off huge chunks of a glacier for the bottled water industry. The bottling of water has been a big business for several decades now. Where can we go now to get massive amounts of pure water but glaciers? We need to investigate how much this intentional harvesting of glaciers has led to glacial disappearance.

  • rationalist

    This discussion reminds me of many past threats to our extinction…but somehow I have a hard time understanding how a 1 degree C increase in global temperature over the next 100 years will cause mankind to cease to exist. Somehow we survived actual horrible events like … the ice age, the Black plague, the little ice age, several flu pandemics, the eruption of Krakatoa, that “meloncholia” movie….the list is long.
    Even the most extreme alarmists .. I mean Scientists … are projecting temperature increases that humankind has easily adapted to in the past. Has the typical person really forgotten that attempts to shape the natural environment to our preferences all eventually fail. Is it not better to adapt to the environment as it changes (like our ancestors did)? When the city of New Orleans is actually a foot below sea-level, is it a surprize to anyone that it is vulnerable to flooding? In a 100 years, will people move to higher ground? I hope so, since denying change is inevitable seems more alarming that just coming in out of the rain.
    I am interested to know if Mr. Balog would be “happy” if the Glaciers were growing at the same rate that he documents them shrinking. I’m sure he knows that all glaciers are either growing or shringing all the time, so fear and despondence in response to something like that seems equivalent to getting depressed about the slow erosion of the Rocky mountains. Change happens.

  • tom rogers

    “Earth-pigs like Al Gore” is now considered gracious? While you and Dr. Spencer seem to believe that you’ll be seen as more honest if you use over-the-top rhetoric about those who you disagree with, I’ll remind you both that Mr. Gore has given every penny from his CC work to organizations that are working to mitigate our CO2. That’s a sum in the $millions, btw.

  • rationalist

    Perhaps “Earth Pig” was less than diplomatic as you state. I apologize for the crude rhetoric.

    We all can judge who are good and bad stewards of the environment, but Al
    is probably not one who deserves the accolades the “environmentalists-when-convenient” seem happy to give him.
    Take this logic test: If we all consumed as much energy as Mr. Gore, then we each sent “$millions” off to a environmental defense legal fund, would the planet be better off? Is it even possible, since Al probably consumes 100 times* the average citizen on Earth? (*this is a guess, so anyone who wants to figure out the real number is welcome to refine my estimate).
    IF the theory that CO2 emissions are going to cause the end of Humanity is eventually found to be true, SOMEONE has to cut back to avoid that outcome: if not Al, who? Lot’s of people posting they are very disturbed, but I don’t see many offering to sell their cars and heat their houses with compost. Is the NotInMyBackYard (NIMBY) population also proposing that SomeoneElseCanSacrifice (SECS)?

  • iconoclast
  • haloadora

    When I opened this page to see the photos of the vanishing glaciers, it was blank – was it an error, or have the glaciers completely vanished? Lol!

  • Craig Bovia

    So the deniers response is, “It’s not our fault. We didn’t cause it.” BullshMitt! Tempus Fugit. 90% of Humanity live within 50 miles from the Coast. In the not too distant future, I believe, as soon as ten years, the water will advance, but will not retreat. Think the first half of Sandy with the lower part of NYC underwater. Permanently. Those who say we must adapt, must be selling “floaties”. The Tipping Point is coming while we “fiddle”. And we call ourselves the “leaders of the World”. Now, that’s funny…

  • David Wilson

    Thank you for that fascinating account of your browser being unable to load a page.

  • David Wilson

    Well, I guess if you’re only concern is absolute extinction, then you have nothing to worry about, not just from this threat, but nearly everything else. Followign that logic, when every future hurricane hits, let people live in holes in the ground. Some will day as an indirect consequence, and most of the rest will be miserable, but as long as total extinction doesn’t happen, so what!

  • David Wilson

    “Anyone who thinks humans can materially modify the direction of climate change (for good or bad) is giving humanity more credit than we deserve.”

    Anyone who makes that statement, I wonder to myself, are they familiar with the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, what the Soviets did to the Aral Sea, the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, the series of mass extinctions that the fossil record displays, most correlated with some kind of atmospheric event. No, none of these are exactly like what we are talking about here. But each makes it clear that this idea that “the environment/climate of the earth is so big & we are so small that we coulnd’t possibly change it much” seem pretty ignorant.

  • Mike Bromley

    Craig, what makes you believe that? What is the first clue?

  • Mike Bromley

    Funny, hurricane frequency has been at an historical low for about a decade. Unless, of course, you include Sandy, which wasn’t one, but made for good drama. And who predicts extinction, time and time again, but it never seems to happen? Why?

  • Mike Bromley

    We’ve been past the point of no return ever since Rachel Carson tried to scare us into the dark ages. What would you do without your internet connection, Richard?

  • Mike Bromley

    Yes, Rahim, that’ll destroy Dr Spencer’s credibility! Make up a story to band him together with some kooky organization, and zip! He’s no longer a threat to your comfy belief system. As long as you can deny the elite’s hypocrisy as well. Turn Gore, Pachuri, and Mr. Balog into heros, and zip! No problem!

  • Mike Bromley

    Like I said, Make Gore into a hero, and zip! He is counting on you to save him from his own hypocrisy. He may give, but he doesn’t GIVE UP… high on the hog. Tom, he wants YOU to have nothing.

  • Mike Bromley


  • JonThomas

    What does an internet connection have to do with Richards comment?

    Technology exists, and has existed before fossil fuels became the cheapest form of energy, to power the same forms of communication we now enjoy.

    Your comment is trollish at best. Go to the playground, you can find plenty of children there to bully.

  • JonThomas

    If Dr. Spencer does belong to an organization which speaks for God, saying what he will, or will not allow, then yes his credibility is destroyed. However, Rahim, did not destroy it, the presumptuous Dr. Spenser will have done that for himself.

    Why are you being so contentious? Is civil discourse beyond your capability? Are you looking to be salacious? Are you just trolling posts that give you the opportunity to treat people and their comments rudely?

    These comments are 2 years old. Why not just add your own comment, saying your opinions instead of bullying other’s?

  • JonThomas

    Donna already admitted her complicity, is there a reason for why you find it necessary to say something so rude to a 2 year old comment?


    Global climate oscillation (the most accurate term for the unfolding phenomenon) clearly demonstrates that humanity has already passed the tipping point. I suggest we live day to day and be kind to each other. Old Coyote Knose it is too late to avoid a major EXTINCTION EVENT, probably before the end of the 21st century. Yeah! And some of my colleagues claim I am an optimist.