The Disappearance of Glaciers

Mountains in British Columbia, Canada
Photograph from National Geographic
Looking back on when I read an article in National Geographic written about the Glaciers of Alberta and British Columbia, it described that the glaciers are to shrink 70% in volume by end of the century. Just this thought is quite scary and disheartening.  What will become of this and what can we do to prevent this from happening?  These questions run though my head at a constant pace.  This is insane when you really think of it and very tragic.  Imagine raising your children or your children’s children. What will they have the chance to see; will these things just exist in pictures?
National Geographic wrote, “The glaciers of western Canada, one of the world’s most picturesque mountain regions, are likely to largely melt away over just three generations, scientists have warned. By 2100, the glaciers of Alberta and British Columbia are set to shrink by 75% in area compared to 2005 levels, and by 70% in volume, according to their predictions.  But in two out of the three regions that were studied, the decline could be even more dramatic – over 90%.  Even at the lowest projected warming, most of the glaciers are essentially doomed.”  These glaciers are a huge supplier in fresh water to the agriculture and the population but as well as a huge tourist attraction which brings in income.  If these glaciers were to disappear permanently we would be experience a drought, or dry up, in the prairies and rivers.
I could not help but relate this article to an artist by the name of Simon Norfolk.  He created a series in which he recorded the decline of the Lewis Glacier, which has been disappearing for the past eighty years.  Using old maps and modern GPS surveys, Norfolk charted the glacier’s previous edge; he then set his camera to hour-long exposures and walked the former outline while carrying a petroleum torch, photographing as he travelled.  The result was images that enclosed the diminished glacier in a fiery border, yet the dominant images which show only earth and air, are all that will remain after the doomed glacier has completely melted.  Will the glacier soon only exist in photographs?  Will generations to come only know of the great wonders of the world through pictures not actually  having the experience of seeing these beautiful destinations in person?
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Photographer: Simon Norfolk

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Photographer: Simone Norfolk
I feel as though lately I have been reading more and more news of global warming and glaciers melting.  Due to global warming 1,600 years of forming it only took 25 to melt drastically in the Andes.“The glaciers of the tropical Andes have shrunk by between 30 and 50 percent in 30 years and many will soon disappear altogether, cutting off the summer water supply for millions of people, according to scientists studying the region’s climate.  Their findings are particularly significant because glaciers in the tropics, 99 percent of which are in the Andes, are regarded as among the most sensitive indicators of climate change on the planet, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” Said Climate Central.
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Before images: Lonnie G. Thompson/Ohio State University

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After images: Lonnie G. Thompson/Ohio State University
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/glacier-melt
It is hard to stop oil companies because they are huge corporations but there are simple way to make a difference and prevent further melting of glaciers. The biggest cause of global warming is the carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels, such as oil and coal which are burned for energy. It is a sad truth that we have to face. We are slowly destroying mother natures beauty and soon these great wonders will not exist. It is our job to make a change for the better for the sake of our future and the generations after. They have to deal with what we do today. Sometimes all it takes is motivation, drive and courage to take a stand and fight for what is right. Even the smallest of people can make a difference.

“Global warming is real. It is happening today. It is being charted by our satellites. It is being charted by our scientists. It is being charted by those of us in this body, and I think the real key is if we are ready to admit that fact and take the action to make the necessary conversion.” – Diane Feinstein