Glaciers on These 25 Mountains Will Completely Melt in 25 Years
By Alex Kirby
Girdling the Earth are 25 mountains whose peaks stand out a brilliant white against the dark rock. But in 25 years from now, an Australian scientist says, the snow on these equatorial summits will have vanished—because climate change will have raised the temperature enough to melt every one of the glaciers.
By 2010, the glacier on Carstensz Pyramid—the highest mountain in Indonesia—was already thinning by almost 25 percent a year.25zero
So concerned is the explorer and author Tim Jarvis, UK-born but now living in Australia, that he is trying to make sure that, before that happens, all the mountains are climbed by people who will publicize their plight.
Jarvis, with a first degree in geomorphology and a master's in water pollution, spends much of his time as a global ambassador for WWF-Australia. And now he's taken on another responsibility as project leader for 25zero, set up to spread the word about climate change and the glaciers' demise.
The project has developed an app for smartphones that will record how far a user's daily activity—walking, running, whatever—goes towards matching the distance covered by mountaineers who climbed three mountains in Asia, Africa and South America to highlight the glaciers' demise.
Some versions will even record the height gained, allowing users to complete a virtual ascent of the peaks, with sponsorship money going to WWF-Australia.
Carihuairazo's glacier lost almost all of its mass during the last decade as a result of global warming and ash covers caused by the recent volcanic activity of its eastern neighbor Tungurahua. At Current rate Carihuairazo's glacier is expected to completely disappear between 2020 and 2030.25zero
On a visit to the UK, Jarvis told Climate News Network: "It's very simple—25 mountains at zero latitude; 25 years from now, zero ice."
All the 25 peaks lie within 200 miles either side of the Equator. And while Jarvis does concede that some glacier traces might linger for 30 years, he said that Kilimanjaro—Africa's highest mountain, at nearly 6,000 meters—will certainly be bare by 2040.
Several years ago, Jarvis headed a group that retraced the route taken in 1915-16 by the Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton from Antarctica to South Georgia after his ship, The Endurance, became trapped in the pack ice.
There are lessons to be learned from the changes the intervening century has wrought, Jarvis said. "One is the amount of glacier melt caused by climate change. Shackleton and his men had three glaciers to cross. We had two—and an icy lake to wade through, where the third glacier had been.
"The other lesson is about leadership, and how that needs to be applied to an issue like climate change."
He believes that too much of the environmental movement spends its time talking to the converted. "People are too busy for statistics and hockey stick curves, and polar change is hard to represent," he said.
"You can't see or smell or taste carbon. But glaciers are a proxy for carbon, because they're tangible."
Then came 25zero, focused on the annual UN climate negotiations known as the Conference of the Parties—or COPs, in climate jargon.
Jarvis had attended one COP, and hadn't liked it. "People in suits, PAs rushing around, no sense of urgency," he recalls.
So for COP21, the 2015 round of climate talks in Paris, Jarvis decided to deploy the glaciers to highlight 25zero's concerns.
Three teams were set up, each planning to scale one glacier-clad mountain in Asia, Africa or South America. Jarvis reached the summits of two—Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia and Mount Stanley in Uganda—but logistical problems prevented his team heading for Chimborazo in Ecuador.
The two teams who did make it relayed statements and images from the summits direct to the Paris conference in real time, hoping to inject some of the urgency Jarvis said the COPs need.
For Jarvis, who will attempt to reach Chimborazo's summit later this month, the most arresting image remains the sight of what was Africa's largest icecap, on Mount Stanley. "It's shrunk since 1906 by 85 percent—from 7.5 sq km to about 1.5," he said.
And there's a vital difference between Shackleton's experience and his own, he adds. "Shackleton was trying to rescue his men from Antarctica. I am trying to rescue Antarctica, and the planet, from man."
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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