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Blog Action Day – Global Warming

October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day is an annual event where bloggers around the world blog about one topic on one day in order to create change. This year the topic is global climate change, something we all need to pay attention to no matter who we are or where we live.

There’s no question that Global Warming is a real thing. The question is : is there anything we can do to slow it down? What are the real impacts on the environment and on current and future world populations?

riggsThese two images of Glacier bay, taken just over 60 years apart, show the effects dramatically.
In 1941. William Field photographed the Muir and Riggs Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park.
riggs glacier
In 2004, USGS glaciologist Bruce Molnia photographed it from almost exactly the same place.

Going further back in history, in 1794, The glacier in Glacier Bay was more than 4000 ft. thick, up to 20 miles or more wide, and extended more than 100 miles to the St.Elias Range of mountains.

  • If the current warming trend continues, all glaciers in Glacier National Park could be gone by 2030.
  • Grinnell Glacier is already 90% gone.
  • Bering Glacier-North America’s largest-has lost 7 miles of its length, while losing 20-25% of it’s volume.
  • According to the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report, average temperatures in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia have risen at twice the global average.

It’s not just the arctic glaciers that are melting either, and glaciers in mountain regions may have catastrophic impact on the population below them.
As the mountain glaciers melt huge lakes form in pockets of the glacier. These pocket expand until there is little more holding the water back than fragile ice dams.
When these dams finally give way, millions of tons of water cascade down the mountain, decimating everything in it’s path.

Himalayan glacier lakes are filling up with more and more melted ice and 24 of them are now poised to burst their banks in Bhutan, with a similar number at risk in Nepal.

It is estimated that by 2010 a glacial lake catastrophe will happen every year. The loss of life and property could be staggering.

The short-term danger is obvious, but the long term danger, that of having less and less runoff every year and the resulting water shortage could make living in these areas impossible in the fairly near future.

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