A new show on PBS called "Extreme Ice" follows photographer James Balog, who with the help of 26 solar-powered time lapse cameras has captured for the world a visual record of the rapid glacial change happening right now around the world — Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, Canada and Glacier National Park.

Their Extreme Ice Survey website has some breathtaking photographs and goes into the technical details and life-threatening encounters the photographers had to deal with in setting up these cameras. 

Once a climate skeptic, Balog changed his tune after seeing ancient ice landscapes vanish within years, particularly in the Arctic region. The show will offer something the general public has lacked for a long, long time in the climate debate — visible evidence. It's easy to glaze over when looking at big charts and lengthy scientific data tables, but when you see a glacier that has been there for centuries melt before your eyes, it changes the way you think about global warming.

Still, people might wonder, what's the big deal? So what if the glaciers melt? To them (and I'm referring to many of my commenters) I suggest you think about the glaciers as something akin to your 401(k). You didn't have any control when it suddenly lost 40 percent of its value, and you know that capital will never be reclaimed.

The glaciers are like the 401(k) of water. They contain over 68 percent of the earth's available fresh water supply, and as they melt and dissolve into the sea, we lose our bank of water. If you want an intense and sobering account of what the world looks like without freshwater, pick up the book I'm reading now, The Blue Covenant by Maude Barlow. 

You can learn more about the project and how glaciers work to stabilize the climate by listening to NPR's interview with James Balog

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The 'Big Melt' documented by time-lapse photography
A new PBS show called 'Extreme Ice' will document — frame by frame — a vanishing landscape.