Big Trouble With Littler Glaciers
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If polar bears are the unofficial ambassador species for the fight against global warming, then glaciers are the official geographical feature. It’s no surprise, really: Both are photogenic, mysterious, and disappearing faster than fries at a fat farm.
Glaciers are melting at the fastest rate since record keeping began, and they’re likely melting faster than they ever have in the past 5,000 years. But according to the World Glacier Monitoring Service, the loss of the world’s glaciers means much more than just missing out on scenic views of icy, aqua-blue tongues spilling down the side of a mountain. This “biggest ever ‘net loss’ of ice” could lead to collapsing ecosystems, failing government infrastructure, and even armed conflict. UN Environment Program head Achim Steiner shared these portentous words of doom with England’s Observer:
“We’re talking about something that happens in your and my lifespan. We’re not talking about something hypothetical, we’re talking about something dramatic in its consequences,” he said.
Food security will likely become the most immediate crisis; farming regions in China and India that rely on glacial melt for irrigation already struggle to water their crops. As the World Glacier Monitoring Service announced their findings, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with Chinese, Japanese, and Indian leaders in Chiba, Japan, in hopes of ironing out solutions to the potential “catastrophe.” Blair leads an international team that hopes to iron out a global pact to fight climate change. U.S. representatives were noticeably absent from the bargaining table.
“If the average person in the US is, say, to emit per capita, one-tenth of what they do today and those in the UK or Japan one-fifth, we’re not talking of adjustment, we’re talking about a revolution,” [Blair said].
This is just a hunch, but you might have to wait until after November for your revolution, Tony. — Ted Alvarez
Glaciers melt ‘at fastest rate in past 5,000 years’ (Guardian/Observer UK)