We are losing our glaciers
Dear reader, I am so sorry but here is again some heartbreaking news
How about installing a memorial plaque for a glacier that is lost to climate change? This is not fiction, no, this is a real story happening right now in Iceland. The first Icelandic glacier with the name of Okjokull (OK for short) is no more. It just melted away as it was getting too warm and could not survive.
A very serious ceremony
On August 18, a public ceremony will be held in Borgarfjordur and researchers from Rice University in Houston will install this plaque. This is the first time this will happen in the world. I just wonder how many more will follow and if this custom will also follow for other things that are disappearing. For example, when the last tree is cut in the Amazon rain forest, the biggest green lung in the world, will we put up a monument remembering this human feat?
What actually is a glacier? Wikipedia tells us: A glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. The USGS says a glacier is an accumulation of crystalline ice, snow, rock, sediment, and often liquid water, that originates on land and moves down-slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity. It forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries.
In the U.S, Mount Rainier in Washington State, with a height of 14.410 feet (4,393 meters) boasts of having the most glaciers of any mountain in the U.S, it has 26.
A glacier can be very old. It is estimated that the glacier ice in Antarctica is close to 1,000,000 years old. Have you heard about ice worms? Well, I had not and found this unusual piece of information. Ice worms really exist. They are small worms and can be found in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia but nowhere else in the world.
The Alps in Europe
The glaciers in Europe are not faring much better. Let’s take a look at the glaciers in the Alps. If the greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, it is said that by the year 2100 some 90% of the glaciers in the European Alps will have disappeared. If the nations can manage to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, and by nations, I mean all nations together, then the ice loss will be less dramatic but still be a whopping two-thirds. I suppose you are getting the picture.
As governments find it so difficult to agree on this life-saving issue and continue talking instead of doing, it is high time that we, the people step in to take over. Have a look at bUnited. Let us join to put straight those urgent issues our planet is suffering. I think we have what can be considered a last chance to make a difference before it really is too late.
All this melting ice will reshape not only the landscape but many more things. It will affect agriculture with its influence on weather patterns. It will affect the salinity in the oceans and very well may affect the global ocean currents, as well as tourism to the comfortable areas we all like. Another thing we should not forget is that there are things living in the ice which will be released because of the melting of the ice worldwide.
The huge ice mass loss in Iceland
Coming back to Iceland, this country loses 11 billion tons of ice mass every year. The country can boast of more than 400 glaciers but their death is in near sight. The Icelandic glaciers are projected to disappear within 200 years and this will have a tremendous impact on the country. Fisheries and hydroelectric power will be at stake and what about tourism and their cultural heritage? It is a sad picture and this is repeated worldwide.
Now, just for the sake of discussion, what else can happen when all the glacier weight on the volcanic island of Iceland disappears? Of course, the island will rise in elevation a little. It will also release a lot of pressure on the volcanic covers so it is possible that the sudden elimination of an ice cap will allow for more activity in the geothermal regions under the island. This does not sound good to me.
The slow-moving cycles of Mother Earth
We all know that Mother Earth goes through cycles but they are slow-moving ones, often taking 10s of thousands of years or more to develop. Since the industrial era started, everything has been going into 6th gear at an awful speed. From the normal super slow motion of things changing over half a millennium to a more rapid rate of 100 years (or less). It is literally happening in front of the eyes of only a few generations. What your grandparents saw your grandchildren will only be able to see on film.
The disappearing of the Himalayas as we know it
Let us go somewhere else in this world, to the famous Himalayan mountains with their stunning landscape. Researchers from Columbia University have come up with some worrying data. It seems that recently, the glaciers have lost 8 billion tons of water a year, doubling the amount due to melting between 1975 to the year 2000. Those 8 billion tons of water are equivalent to 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools. That is an astronomical figure and difficult to imagine.
Because of the melting, big lakes are being formed, which have an impact on local communities. There is an increased danger to a sudden collapse of these lakes and if that happens, the sudden release forms a downward tsunami toward the villages below. It has become a very risky situation to live there. The world-famous Mount Everest and K2 might become ice-free by the end of this century.
Unknown things are hidden in the ice
When old ice melts a lot of things are set free. I wrote a post on hidden things in the ice some time ago.
The melting of the ice might have unforeseen consequences and we really should be aware of that. Illnesses known but also unknown to modern men might suddenly stick up their head and it could very well be that we cannot cope.
We are finding animal remains in the thawing ice. Some of these animals have not been around since the last ice age. About 17,000 years ago, the last ice age was coming to a close, then a comet struck near Greenland and the northern area of Canada, plunging the earth into what is called the Younger Dryas event. At the same time of the comet impact, large carnivores across the northern hemisphere were killed off in a very short time and frozen.
Now, with the rapid warming of the globe, these remains are being exposed to the air and they can bring with them bacteria that have not been around for 10s of thousands of years. Can you imagine, going through a human catastrophe similar to what the Native Americans experienced with the arrival of Small Pox?
Now, increase that to a global pandemic due to the interconnections of our modern world. For these unknown diseases, there will be no existing medicines and our immune system cannot overcome these challenges.
The impressive text on the memorial plaque
The plaque which will commemorate the disappearance of the OK the first Icelandic glacier to disappear has an inscription in Icelandic and in English. Here is the English text.
A LETTER TO THE FUTURE
OK is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier.
In the next 200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path.
The monument is to acknowledge that we know
what is happening and what needs to be done.
Only you know if we did it.
The reference to the CO2 is to the record-breaking amount of carbon dioxide recorded in the atmosphere earlier in the year. This really does not need any further explanation.
Worldwide there are many more glaciers which run the risk of disappearing
Mother Earth would be better off without us. Really, let us be fair, we are not doing her any good. The human race is doing its best to not survive. I just wonder what will happen. If we will drive ourselves into extinction by our own stupid actions before the planet is ruined or the other way around? Perhaps we ruin our beautiful planet to such an extent that life becomes impossible here, who knows? Obviously, the third and nicest option is to take action now protecting our environment, but will we?
Source: CNN World, story by Allen Kim and Isabelle Gerretsen on July 22, 2019, Wikipedia
Photo Source: Pixabay
You might care to read the following post. Everything is possible even causing our own extinction.