Quantcast

Glaciers on These 25 Mountains Will Completely Melt in 25 Years

Popular

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

Glacier Traces

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.

Summit Images

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."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Micromobility is the future of transportation in cities, but cities and investors need to plan ahead to avoid challenges. Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

By Carlo Ratti, Ida Auken

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

Read More Show Less
An American flag waves in the wind at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on May 17 where a trial against Monsanto took place. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, were awarded more than $2 billion in damages in their lawsuit against Monsanto, though the judge in the case lowered the damage award to $87 million. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Six of the nineteen wind turbines which were installed on Frodsham Marsh, near the coal-powered Fiddler's Ferry power station, in Helsby, England on Feb. 7, 2017.

Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Read More Show Less
"Globally, we're starting to see examples of retailers moving away from plastics and throwaway packaging, but not at the urgency and scale needed to address this crisis." Greenpeace

By Jake Johnson

A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Children are forced to wear masks due to the toxic smoke from peat land fires in Indonesia. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

By Irene Banos Ruiz

Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.

Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.

Read More Show Less
Private homes surround a 20 inch gas liquids pipeline which is part of the Mariner East II project on Oct. 5, 2017 in Marchwood, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

The FBI is looking into how the state of Pennsylvania granted permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline as part of a corruption investigation, the AP reports.

Read More Show Less
Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles. Carolina Wild Ones / Facebook

Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less