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Climate and Environment

Santiago Saez Moreno
Journalist
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piqer: Santiago Saez Moreno
Thursday, 31 January 2019

A Heart-Breaking Tale Of Melting Ice

Ice is vanishing. Even if you live in the American Midwest and have spent the last few days under chilling conditions, this, whatever Trump says, is an undisputable fact. 2018 was the sixth year ever recorded with the smallest quantity of sea ice in the Arctic (the record low was hit in 2012). Meanwhile, real bad news is arriving from Antarctica: A cavity under Thwaites Glacier shows how fast it is declining (if you want to understand the gravity of the situation, take a peek).

This podcast tells the story of its author, Dahr Jamail, a journalist and mountaineer. After a spectacular beginning (appropriately, a free fall in which he witnesses "compressed time"), he goes on to explain his experience on the ice. How, year after year, glaciers were retreating and it was more difficult to reach them.

Mountaineering in today’s climate-disrupted world is a vastly different endeavour from what it used to be. Glaciers are vanishing before our eyes, having shrunk to the lowest levels ever recorded, and are now melting faster than ever [...] A glacier is essentially suspended energy, suspended force. It is, in a sense, life frozen in time. But now they are themselves running out of time.

The piece is an emotional one. The author's relationship with glaciers and ice is the protagonist of the story. There is scientific information, but mostly as an accessory. I was way more fascinated by the Alaskan volunteer gravedigger than by the numbers I've read dozens of times.

The conclusion is not hopeful. Jamail is not convinced we can get out of the mess we've created. But there's a proper reaction, he thinks, to the bad news we face most every day. And that is to care for what you love. Including the mountains.

This story was first published in text form here.

A Heart-Breaking Tale Of Melting Ice
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