Melting Glaciers - The Reality

Melting glaciers have been in the forefront of all discussions on climate change.

Numerous scientists have been crying out loud about the melting of glaciers and how it can adversely impact the entire ecological structure of the planet.

However, there are skeptics who proclaim that the facts have been more exaggerated than what they really are. Sadly, that is not the case.

Franz-Josef Glacier

Source: United Nations Environment Programme

Muir Glacier in Alaska

Back in 2004, two images of Muir Glacier in Alaska, one of 1941 and one of 2004, were published together to expose the challenges we face as our world fails to manage anthropogenic global warming.

The once frozen Muir Glacier with snow peaked mountains nearby in 1941 had turned into a lake having green trees around it by 2004.

This contrasting and disturbing image spoke louder than any words had ever spoken before about this issue.

Despite the reality being so obvious, the world as a whole has not sufficiently combated global warming.

Muir Glacier in 1941
Muir Glacier in 2004

Source: United Nations Environment Programme

The Importance of Glaciers

Glaciers are important for the Earth’s cryosphere (frozen zones) and are also quintessential for global temperature control and marine life.

Glaciers are not only one of the purest sources of water but also account for all the perennial rivers in the world that harbour food production for the vast majority of the world populace.

About 97% of our planet's water is salt water, and of the 3%  that is fresh water, almost 70% comes from ice caps and glaciers.

Almost 70% of Earth’s fresh water is contained in glaciers and ice caps

What Caused the Melting?

Rising temperatures via the greenhouse effect owing to increased carbon emissions have raised the surface and water temperatures in the biosphere. This triggers the melting of glaciers.

Usually, glaciers melt during summers and retain their mass during winters. This is true for glaciers all across the world – Alaska, Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland and the Himalayas among others.

If glaciers in Antarctica or Greenland retreat faster than they can accumulate new snow, then they will cause rising sea levels which will lead to an environmental unbalance.

The Aletsch Glacier, the largest glacier of the Alps, in Switzerland

Melting of Glaciers in Greenland

In July 2012, NASA reported that the melting of glaciers in Greenland was alarming.

Wall Street Journal, which hardly delves much into such updates and usually doesn’t make it a front page headline (RAPID ICE MELT BAFFLES SCIENTISTS), had made an exception for this development.

Melting Glaciers in the Tropics

National Geographic published recently that Peru's Quelccaya ice cap is the largest in the tropics.

If it continues to melt at its current rate—contracting more than 600 feet (182.8 meters) a year in some places—it will be gone by 2100, leaving thousands who rely on its water for drinking and electricity both dry and in the dark.

The Quelccaya Glacier in Peru is melting rapidly

Melting Glaciers in the Himalayas

Several newspapers as well as the United Nations supported the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development which had published numerous findings that the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas were witnessing random melting glaciers which would spell doom for the world.

As a matter of fact, the Himalayas supply water via perennial rivers to over a billion people and if they met, it would spell catastrophe.

The Himalayas provide fresh water to over a billion people

What is at Stake

The truth of the matter is that pure drinking water, agricultural produce, livelihood and a comfortable climate would all be compromised if these glaciers fully retreat.

In reality, too many people pay heed to disinformation and submit themselves to the chains of a consumer society, in turn insulating themselves from the world in which they came from, while the biosphere, composed of every single ecosystem in the world, falls into complete disarray.

We can't ignore the situation any longer. We need to take action.

Reducing our carbon footprint, using less energy and living an eco-friendly lifestyle is the least that we can do to help stop climate change.

Moreover, we need to spread the word on climate change before we reach a point of no return.

From National Geographic

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