A vivid appeal to save our rapidly diminishing glaciers.
Outraged to learn that a mining company planned to dynamite three glaciers to reach the gold underneath, Taillant, founder of the Center for Human Rights and Environment, became a “cryoactivist,” a word that hadn’t been invented but that finds meaning in these pages. Though not a scientist, the author is “a career environmental policy expert,” and he is dedicated to the preservation of Earth’s glaciers, a critical factor in fighting against accelerating climate changes. Taillant begins with an avalanche of statistics. The most familiar—namely, that our planet is 2/3 water and 1/3 land—is misleading. The reality, notes the author, is that it is 71% water, 19% land, and 10% ice. A minuscule 2% of the water is fresh, and 75% of that is bound in polar icecaps or high in mountains where it forms a critical part of our ecosystem. Mostly, Taillant describes what glaciers do. They provide perhaps 85% of “the water humans need,” from drinking to agriculture. They keep us cool. Ice is white, so it reflects most of the sun’s rays. When it disappears, brown earth or blue ocean absorb these rays and grow warmer. Ocean levels will rise by 200 feet if all the ice melts. They’re predicted to rise two to seven feet during the 21st century, and Louisiana and south Florida are already visibly suffering the effects. In the final chapters, the author outlines possible solutions. Some engineers are creating “artificial glaciers” or reviving old ones. Laws to protect glaciers should be a no-brainer, but, except in Argentina, all have failed. Of course, the author insists, this must change. Slowing global warning by eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning is essential. It’s not likely to happen in the coming decades, but in the short term, we can easily eliminate superpollutants such as methane and refrigerants and see immediate improvements.
More bad news about climate change but an excellent education on ice.