Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Witnessing Glacial Melting

I had to go look. I had to see for myself just how bad it really is. I wanted to personally experience the effects of global warming on the Arctic. I went to Alaska. I visited some of the glaciers there. And, without a doubt, the problem is very serious.

The world has already changed, right before our eyes. And it continues to change even more.

In the area I visited, 98 percent of the glaciers have shrunk... Yes, 2 percent have grown. But this is because of global warming too. A warmer ocean has led to more evaporation, and therefore more snowfall in some areas.

Of the glaciers I visited, all of them have melted significantly. The main glacier we went to see, Northwestern glacier, was a mere shadow of it's former self. One hundred years ago, it had stretched for miles into the ocean. Now, it barely reached a few feet into the water – and that ice was melting fast. In fact, I left my video recorder on continuously while we were there, because ice was almost continuously calving while we were watching.

(The photo shows glaciers in the distance. All of the water in the picture was covered by hundreds of feet of ice a century ago. The video I took is of an ice fall, a form of glacier calving that is falling down the side of the mountain for thousands of feet. This is what happens when a tidal glacier starts melting up the mountain. This is ice melting off of land. This is what sea level change looks like. This is what coastal flooding looks like. It's not a question of when the seas will rise any more. It's now a question of how much.)

As our boat was first entering the bay, you could see where the glacier had once ended a hundred years ago. The pile of rocks known as it's terminal moraine was underwater, but it reached high enough stop ocean swell. From that point, you couldn't even see the glacier. From that point, it was still almost a half an hour's travel to reach where the glacier ends now.

A hundred years ago, this glacier stretched for over a mile across the bay. It was 400 feet high. And it flowed for over 7 miles out into the ocean. Now, that is all gone. Gone!

Our ship captain pointed out to us that during the 15 years he had been coming out to visit this glacier, he had seen it shrink significantly. I too, felt as if I were witnessing it shrinking before my eyes. The experience was overwhelming.

The truth is so self evident that we are in big trouble that it seems hard to believe that there is any controversy. The Earth's environment is changing. That may be a good thing 2 percent of the time. But, 98 percent of the time the results will be horrific for humanity.

Shrinking glaciers are a sign.

If we ignore the signs, we will have to bear the brunt of the consequences.

The time to act responsibly was 30 years ago.

We won't be getting out of this unscathed.

The balance of life on Earth has already suffered.

People have already died (from extreme weather due to global warming).

The situation is now beginning to become desperate.

For some, it's already too late.

There's even a possibility that it's already too late for our civilization.

The longer we wait – the longer it's business as usual, the worse the consequences will likely be. And this is happening in our lifetime.


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SmartlikeStreetcar said...

That is a powerful video... thanks for sharing!

When I get a chance, I'll link to you so others can see it.