Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that becomes compressed into large ice masses over many years according to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC). When this ice becomes extremely dense, it begins to force out tiny air pockets which give the ice a distinct vibrant blue colour. Most glaciers are located in polar regions, but they can be found worldwide and can vary in size. Some glaciers can be as small as a football field or can grow to be hundreds of kilometers long. They cover great expanses of the world and store about 75 percent of the world’s freshwater. During the last Ice Age, about 32 percent of the world was covered in ice, however, today only about 10 percent of land area on earth is covered with ice sheets, ice caps, and glaciers.
Glaciers have been here since the last Ice Age, however, they are sensitive to global temperature shifts causing glacial melt and loss. According to many scientists, since the early twentieth-century, glaciers around the world have been retreating or disappearing at alarming rates. Many attribute this to the Industrial Revolution which increased unprecedented releases of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases. This caused the Earth’s current warming at such a fast rate that it caused the glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise.
If this warming continues and if all land ice melts, our sea levels will rise approximately 70 meters or 230 feet globally. This rise will cause many island nations to be overwhelmed and low-lying coastal regions to flood entirely. The consequences of glacial melt are severe and without changes they are irreversible. However, many don’t believe that anything is changing. Here are 13 Images Of Glaciers Melting And 12 People Who Don’t Care.
25 Fact: Glaciers Around The World Are Disappearing - However, Many Don't Believe This Is Happening
As MNN stated, the glaciers were “here for 10,000 years… and gone in 10”. Fagre from National Geographic agrees that things that normally happen in geologic time are now happening during the span of a human lifetime. This is not natural. From Switzerland to the Arctic, to Peru, to Indonesia, to the ice in the sea, it is all disappearing extremely fast. These changes have been accelerated and don’t show signs of being reversed. Large-scale societal changes need to be made to slow this process, however, this must happen on a global scale. Many don’t believe this is happening though and continue to deny global warming.
24 Denial: "Global Warming Is A Myth" - David Bellamy
David Bellamy was quoted stating that "Global warming — at least the modern nightmare vision — is a myth. I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policymakers are not”. It is easier to believe that global warming is just a myth, but it has been scientifically proven. Researchers long ago predicted that global warming would have visible impacts. They determined that notable changes would be the first indicators; such as rising air and sea temperatures, reductions of sea ice, thawing permafrost, earlier snowmelt, and later ice freeze-up, and increasing storm intensity. All of those changes have now been recorded happening in Alaska, according to Amanda Lynch (an Australian researcher). This is no myth – it is being scientifically proven to be happening.
23 Fact: NASA's Scientific Studies Have Found That The Polar Ice Caps Are Melting 9% Per Decade
NASA implemented a satellite that can track and monitor the planet’s melting polar ice caps. The satellite utilizes a laser to collect data and measure glaciers and floating sea ice. Further, this satellite has the ability to take measurements of the ice mass and thickness. Currently, NASA has found that arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 12.8 percent per decade (relative to the 1981 to 2010 average). Scientists can now collect information more precisely and try to better understand the processes and drivers that are behind glacial melt. However, their hard work, and this rate of melting won’t decrease unless we begin to make changes.
22 Denial: "Politically Motivated Scientists, Who Should Know Better, Have Whipped Up A Global Frenzy About A Phenomena" - Robert H. Austin
Some who deny climate change claim that it is solely politically motivated. That information is incorrect. If scientists were politically motivated to confirm climate change, we could expect more of a division among scientists regarding conclusions. However, according to the Academics of Science, there is a consensus among 97 percent of scientists from over 80 countries that climate change real and a serious concern. Further, the IPCC confirmed that “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal”. With such global agreement among the scientific community, it is not plausible that the science is politically motivated. However, what we do about climate change is political.
21 Fact: Scientists Have Confirmed That The Thickness Of The Arctic Ice Has Decreased By 40% Since The 1960s
According to World Watch, Arctic sea ice has thinned dramatically since the 1960s and 70s. They state that between the 60s and 70s, and the mid-1990s, the average thickness dropped from 3.1 meters to 1.8 meters, which is a decline of nearly 40 percent in less than 30 years. NASA confirmed that Arctic sea ice is thinning as a result of global warming, and noted that both the “extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades”.
20 Denial: "All The Fuss About Global Warming Is Grossly Exaggerated" - Freeman Dyson
Many who dispute climate change argue that the scientific results are exaggerated and that this is a part of the natural cycle. It is true that the Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Over 650,000 years there have been 7 cycles of glacier formation and recession, however, those were due to small changes in our Earth’s orbit, which then changed how much solar energy the Earth received. This is very different from what is happening now. Global warming currently is because of our activities. According to NASA, there is a 95 percent probability that these changes are a result of our activities, which is causing such an unprecedented change in our climate. This isn’t an exaggeration; the changes have just escalated at an alarming and unnatural rate.
19 Fact: The U.S Centre For Atmospheric Research Says There Will Be No Ice In The Arctic By 2040
Currently, the U.S Centre for Atmospheric Research says if the current rate of global temperature rise continues, then there will be no ice left in the Arctic by 2040. The World Economic Forum stated that scientists now believe there will no longer be a frozen North pole. They are now finding that the Arctic is seeing its minimum coverage of summer ice, falling by over half its volume. This could have severe implications on ocean currents. Arctic ice is important for the gulf stream, which could impact Indian monsoon patterns and El Niño. According to Dr. Moon from the University of Colorado, the “surge” in scientific research and the increased amount of data, is all indicating that there is rapid and irreversible ice loss.
18 Denial: "Global Warming Is Indeed A Scam" - Dr. Martin Keeley
Many people who deny that climate change is real, claim that it is a scam and that global temperature warming is natural. They argue that science cannot prove that this increase isn’t part of a normal climate cycle. However, NASA has proven this claim to be false using ice cores from Greenland, Antarctica and tropical mountain glaciers. These core samples show changes in greenhouse gas levels. These are confirmed when compared with evidence in tree rings, coral reefs, ocean sediments, and sedimentary rock. They state that this reveals that in comparison to past warming, the current warming is happening 10 times faster than the average in the past.
17 Fact: The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf (The Largest Single Block Of Ice In The Arctic) Is 3000 Years Old And It Broke
The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf is the largest single block of ice in the Arctic and is 3000 years old. It has stood for centuries until it split in the year 2000. Since then, the ice shelf has continued to break apart. This is concerning for obvious reasons, but it has also had a serious and lasting impact on humans and wildlife. The Disraeli Fiord, an epi-shelf lake was located in the ice shelf. When the shelf broke, it drained this lake and threatened a rare ecosystem. The loss of this micro-ecosystem will drastically impact the food chain in the Arctic Ocean and is a great concern to NASA.
16 Denial: "It's Just Like One Thousand Other Issues" - Unknown
The Verge reported that a recent poll discovered that more than half of Americans think that climate change won’t affect them personally. According to a Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, many see it as a distant problem that won’t impact them until 2100 or later. However, it is impacting us already. Glacial melt is the largest indicator of this. If we don’t act soon, those impacts are going to be harder felt sooner than we anticipate. Temperatures are going up worldwide, heat waves or extreme weather events (such as hurricanes and wildfires) are becoming increasingly common, critical water sources will disappear, critical species will go extinct, and soon we will see entire nations being overwhelmed by rising oceans.
15 Fact: The Greenland Ice Sheet Measures Around 650,000 Square Miles - If All This Ice Melts, The Sea Will Rise By 20 Feet
NASA’s satellite laser readings are now showing that the edges of Greenland’s Ice Sheet are shrinking. Although Greenland’s Helheim Glacier has remained intact for centuries, in 2000 scientists began to notice that the glacier was disappearing. By 2005, they noticed it had receded 7.24kms, at an average rate of 110 ft per day. Annually, the Greenland ice sheet has lost 281 billion tonnes of ice from 1993 to 2016. If this continues, it will cause sea-levels to rise by 20 feet. Ironically, this has now enabled new oil and gas exploration projects, only making the situation worse.
14 Denial: "If You Just Look At The Science, I, At Least, Am Underwhelmed. This May Or May Not Be A Problem, But It Is Far From The Most Serious Problem." - Michael Crichton
The science is any but underwhelming. It is becoming more pertinent to act, as the science reports terrifying changes. MNN reported that the Chacaltaya glacier has completely disappeared, even though a study on Bolivian glaciers warned that this would happen in 1998. At the time, that report was “dismissed as overly dramatic”. It has now been officially declared that the glacier no longer exists. This now threatens both water and power supplies in the Andean region. MMN further stated that melting has tripled in the last decade, and it is expected that several adjoining areas could have less than 30 years to survive. This is not underwhelming.
13 Fact: The Oceans Will Rise By 200 Feet If The Ice At The South Pole Melts
The South Pole has around 90 percent of the Earth’s ice, which makes up about 70 percent of the world’s freshwater. In some places, it can even be around 7000 feet thick. Antarctica is larger than the USA and Mexico combined. The Washington Post reports that scientists are now warning that the Western part of the ice sheet is unstable and could trigger over a 10-foot rise in the sea level. If all of the ice in the Antarctic melts, the sea will rise by 200 feet. This would completely wipe out island nations and the majority of coastal cities.
12 Denial: "It’s One Of The Biggest Scams That Has Ever Been Perpetrated On The People Of The World" - Rush Limbaugh
Arguably one of the “biggest scams perpetrated on the people of the world” would be calling climate change a hoax. A few public officials have become well-known for their denial of climate change due to their interest in preserving industries that are the worst for climate change. The Verge reports that a study has found that people tend to listen to what their leaders say, so this influence has caused a drop in people who believe in global warming. Ignoring sound scientific findings and reporting differently, is a scam on world citizens.
11 Fact: The US Geological Survey Has Reported That Glacier National Park In Montana Has Lost More Than 120 Glaciers
When Glacier National Park was established in 1910 there were around 150 glaciers, however, now there are fewer than 30 left after a century (most left have shrunk by two-thirds). Fagre from National Geographic predicts that within 30 years most, if not all, of the park's glaciers will disappear. This has now threatened water supplies for millions according to the Independent and is a concerning indicator for what is to come in the future. Dr. Moon from the University of Colorado reports that this pattern has been seen repeating all over the world from Patagonia to the Himalayas.
10 Denial: "Nothing Is Going To Happen For A Long Time" - Unknown
Evidently, things are happening right now. National Geographic reports that the snows of Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, have melted more than 85 percent since 1912. The glaciers in the Garhwal Himalayas, in India, are retreating so fast that researchers believe that most Central and Eastern Himalayan glaciers could be gone by 2035, which will remove essential water resources that support almost a billion people. Finally, National Geographic warns that in the Western region of Himachal Pradesh there is evidence of almost 3 feet of annual ice loss, which has doubled in the past decade from the prior decade’s record.
9 Fact: 52 Percent Of All The Glaciers In Switzerland Will Be Gone In 25 Years
MNN reports that European glaciers have often been the most impacted by global warming. The Alps (often referred to as the ‘water tower of Europe’) contain around 40 percent of Europe’s freshwater supply. Concerning findings reported that the Matterhorn (a famous Swiss mountain) has seen almost half of its glaciers disappear. This has actually created a need for Switzerland and Italy to redraw their borders and has made many concerned about water supplies. To make matters worse, The Independent wrote that climate models are projecting that 52 percent of all the small glaciers in Switzerland will be gone in 25 years.
8 Denial: "All This Concern With The Effects Of Global Warming Is Another Manifestation Of Being Politically Correct" - Lord Young Of Graham
Concern for the effects of global warming is not being politically correct, this is a concern for our survival. Polar ice, for example, reflects large amounts of solar energy back into space which helps keep temperatures coolers on earth. Once our ice melts, this exposes land and water surfaces which instead retain that solar heat. This leads to even more melting and creates a cycle increasing and accelerating the warming process according to World Watch. This will make the effects much worse, much faster having dangerous consequences for our survival.
7 Fact: 80% of Western Canada's Glaciers Will Disappear In The Next 50 Years
Global News has reported that climate change has caused glaciers in British Columbia, Yukon and Alberta to retreat faster than at any time in history, threatening to raise water levels and create simultaneously created deserts. David Hik (an ecology professor at Simon Fraser University) said the region is one of the hotspots for warming and the data is shocking. Current estimates are that 80 percent of the mountain glaciers in Western Canada will disappear in the next 50 years. The Peyto Glacier is an essential example, as it has lost about 70 percent of its mass in the last 50 years. This pattern is happening in the St. Elias Ranges as well where they have lost approximately one-quarter of ice cover since the 1950s.
6 Denial: "Human-Caused Global Warming Has Never Been Proven" - Victoria Jackson
It has been proven and confirmed that humans have caused global warming. The Journal of Science confirmed that our emissions accounted for around 69 percent of the loss of glaciers from 1991-2010. Warmer temperatures after the Little Ice Age affected the glaciers, and glaciers would be melting without any human influence according to Live Science. However, the melt would not be happening as rapidly as it is today if it weren't for man-made contributions, like greenhouse gases. We must take responsibility for how we have impacted our environment.
5 Fact: Scientific Studies Have Confirmed That Humans Have Caused The Globe's Glacier Loss
Around 97 percent of scientists agree that natural climate cycles were not enough to cause such severe changes in the Earth’s temperature according to National Geographic. Rather, scientists found that aerosols, the production of electricity using coal and petroleum, and also the use of fossil fuels for transportation and in industrial production, has impacted our environment and caused this warming. Live Science wrote that Ben Marzeion (from the University of Innsbruck in Austria) stated that "in a sense, we got a confirmation that by now, it is really mostly humans that are responsible for the melting glaciers”.
4 Denial: "This Is Not Science, It's Mere Green Propaganda" - Unknown
If only this was just propaganda. Unfortunately, that is not the case and this is really happening. Many believe that these images are just meant to act as propaganda, but they are real. Scientists are finding that wildlife is already suffering from global ice-melt, specifically at the poles. World Watch reports that marine mammals, sea birds, and animals that depend on food found on the ice edge are struggling. In northern Canada, scientists have found concerning evidence that polar bears are losing weight due to loss of ice cover. Further, in Antarctica the loss of sea ice with rising air temperatures has changed the habitats of penguins and seals, negatively impacting breeding and feeding patterns.
3 Fact: Without Action, There Will Be Severe Consequences
According to Dr. Moon from the University of Colorado, at the current rate of global warming, billions of people will be forced to leave their homes because of rising seas, crucial sources of water will run dry, and wildlife will lose sources of nutrients and shelter. Without ice, ocean temperatures will rise which will mean more intense weather systems. Most cities lying in coastal regions will be inundated due to rising sea levels, causing many populations to be displaced. Where there isn’t flooding there will actually be new desert areas, according to Global News.
2 Denial: "We Don’t Understand Climate Change With 100% Certainty, So We Shouldn’t Do Anything" - Unknown
According to Live Science, even if climate change from natural and human causes stopped right now, the glaciers would continue to melt and would still raise ocean levels by 7 centimeters during this century. However, that will not happen. The reality is that we aren’t currently doing enough to reverse the impact of climate change. As temperatures continue to rise, we will lose more glaciers and ice sheets. Many argue that this will provide more water for us, however, this isn’t sustainable. The negative consequences are severe and could threaten life as we know it. To do nothing ensures our collective failure.
1 Fact: Scientists Agree That We Can Slow Down These Climatic Changes
The Independent reports that unfortunately, much of the glacier and ice sheet loss is irreversible. However, scientists agree that we can slow down these impacts if we implement measures globally. We must all agree to switch to better sources of energy such as solar, wind and other forms, and reduce our use of coal, gas, and oil. We need to make a collective investment to develop new technologies that will ensure we keep global temperatures as low as possible. Unless substantial climate action is taken we can expect this pattern to continue for millennia.
Sources: NASA, National Geographic, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, World Economic Forum, The Independent, Business Insider, Washington Post, Global News, MNN, The World Counts, Academics of Science, The Verge