The Story of Ice
While Sir Francis Drake was busy defeating the Spanish Armada in the English Channel in 1588, snowflakes were falling gently on the slopes of Mt Logan, Canada’s tallest mountain. Today, 431 years later and after a slow 122 km (76 mile) downhill journey, the very same snow, though transformed into big chunks of ice, is tumbling into Alaska’s Disenchantment Bay.
Glaciers are amazing natural phenomena - they seem alive. Glaciers produce ethereal sounds that will send chills down your spine. They moan, groan, crackle and pop as they finally end their slow trek down the mountain with great noise and a monstrous splash into the sea. In Disenchantment Bay, the glacial icebergs float as tall as houses, offering refuge to living creatures and, eventually, adding icy meltwater to ocean currents that teem with fish, krill, shrimp and plankton – the basic food staples for marine animals further up the food chain.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that glaciers are threatened by a warming climate. Glaciers are huge store houses of fresh water for many parts of the world. As they shrink and disappear in the Andes, Himalayas, Alps, and on Mt. Kilimanjaro for example, countries like Bolivia, Nepal, Switzerland, and Tanzania, which depend on meltwater from glaciers for crop irrigation and drinking water, face a difficult future.
The latest estimate tells us that 99% of the world’s glaciers are shrinking. Can our world survive without glaciers? Perhaps, but the impacts will be far-reaching and range from unprecedented loss of marine life to millions of environmental refugees fleeing flooded low-lying regions of the world. I may not live long enough to witness this calamity, but I can lend my voice to the chorus of voices that speak of the dire consequences if glaciers were lost to this world and became a thing of the past.