250 People Attend Funeral for 'Death' of Swiss Alps Glacier
Hundreds of activists gathered in the Swiss Alps on Sunday to mourn the loss of Pizol, a glacier that has steadily retreated over the last decade as temperatures have warmed the mountain tops, according to CNN.
More than 250 people donned black funeral clothes, including hats and lace veils, and climbed to a spot over 8,500 feet above sea level to say goodbye to Pizol in the Glarus Alps, in the eastern part of Switzerland near the border with Austria.
"I have climbed up here countless times," said Matthias Huss, a glacier expert at ETH Zurich university who attended. "It is like the dying of a good friend."
The glacier, which has been monitored since 1893 will be the first to be taken off the Swiss glacier surveillance network, since it has lost 80 to 90 percent of its volume since 2006. It now contains less than 26,000 meters of ice, which is smaller than four football fields, according to Huss, as CNN reported.
"Pizol glacier has disappeared," Huss told CNN. "There will be some snow left, but the glacier is no more."
Pizol has "lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," said Alessandra Degiacomi of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, as The Independent reported.
A local priest gave a speech to commemorate the lost glacier.
While the Pizol glacier may be lost to the annals of history, the funeral attendees hope they can draw attention to other glaciers that are retreating, but may still be saved.
"We can basically not save this glacier, this glacier is a symbol that glaciers are disappearing, that the ice is melting in the Alps," said Huss in a Reuters video. "We cannot save this glacier but there are many other glaciers that we can potentially save by protecting the climate, the bigger glaciers can still be saved, but also in a smaller size."
Pizol is just one casualty in a climate crisis that has the potential of drastically altering the Swiss Alps. In one study earlier this year, ETH Zurich researchers estimated that 90 percent of alpine glaciers will vanish if we continue along the current pace of greenhouse gas emissions, as Deutsche Welle reported.
Pizol is not the first glacier in the Swiss Alps to melt into extinction. In fact, Huss estimated that more than 500 glaciers have melted since 1850, including 50 that were named. What sets Pizol apart is it is the first Swiss glacier to disappear that has been so thoroughly studied, according to Deutsche Welle.
"If Pizol goes, this is a warning sign. This is what is going to happen if we don't change something about our behavior," Degiacomi told CNN.
She added that the Swiss Association for Climate Protection had obtained 120,000 signatures, crossing the 100,000-requirement threshold, to launch a popular initiative demanding that Switzerland reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
Switzerland, which is a direct democracy, will now have to put the carbon neutral initiative on an upcoming ballot.
"We can't save the Pizol glacier anymore," said Huss, as The Independent reported. "[But] let's do everything we can, so that we can show our children and grandchildren a glacier here in Switzerland a hundred years from now."
The funeral for Pizol follows the plaque ceremony scientists participated in to memorialize Okjökull last month, the first Icelandic glacier lost to the climate crisis, as EcoWatch reported.
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Home gardening is having a boom year across the U.S. Whether they're growing their own food in response to pandemic shortages or just looking for a diversion, numerous aspiring gardeners have constructed their first raised beds, and seeds are flying off suppliers' shelves. Now that gardens are largely planted, much of the work for the next several months revolves around keeping them healthy.
Start With Prevention<p>Just as preventive steps like maintaining a balanced diet help keep humans healthy, home growers can take many actions to help their gardens thrive.</p><p>One key step is assessing soil fertility – the ability of soil to sustain plant growth – which can vary widely depending on your location and soil type. Low soil fertility limits food production and predisposes plants to disease and pests. University extension <a href="https://soiltesting.wvu.edu/" target="_blank">soil testing labs</a> can help evaluate the quality of garden soil and identify nutrient deficiencies and acidic soils, often at no charge.</p>
Using weed barrier landscape cloth for planting rows and mulching between rows is an effective way to suppress weeds. Matt Kasson, CC BY-ND
Diagnosing Problems<p>Common plant pathogens include <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/viral/introduction/Pages/PlantViruses.aspx" target="_blank">viruses</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/prokaryote/intro/Pages/Bacteria.aspx" target="_blank">bacteria</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/nematode/intro/Pages/IntroNematodes.aspx" target="_blank">nematodes</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/oomycete/introduction/Pages/IntroOomycetes.aspx#:%7E:text=The%20oomycetes%2C%20also%20known%20as,foliar%20blights%20and%20downy%20mildews." target="_blank">oomycetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/fungalasco/intro/Pages/IntroFungi.aspx" target="_blank">fungi</a>. All of these microorganisms, especially at an early stage of infection, are too small to see. But when they proliferate, they cause changes in plants that we can recognize.</p><p>Unlike insects, which move around on six legs or on wings through the air, pathogens can move unseen and unchecked from leaf to leaf on the wind, through the soil or in droplets of water. Some microbes have even formed intimate relationships with insects and use them as vehicles to move from plant to plant, which makes these pathogens even more challenging to manage. Unfortunately, by the time some pathogens make their presence known, the damage is already done.</p><p>We recently conducted a <a href="https://twitter.com/kasson_wvu/status/1265989041725624323" target="_blank">Twitter poll</a> of gardeners nationwide to find out which culprits plagued their gardens. People named <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/aphids" target="_blank">aphids</a>, <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/squash-vine-borer" target="_blank">squash vine borers</a>, <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/squash-bug" target="_blank">squash bugs</a> and <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/flea-beetle" target="_blank">flea beetles</a> as the most problematic insect pests. Their most troublesome pathogens included <a href="https://extension.wvu.edu/lawn-gardening-pests/plant-disease/fruit-vegetable-diseases/powdery-mildew" target="_blank">powdery mildew</a>, <a href="https://plantpath.ifas.ufl.edu/rsol/Trainingmodules/BWTomato_Module.html" target="_blank">tomato bacterial wilt</a> and <a href="https://extension.wvu.edu/lawn-gardening-pests/plant-disease/fruit-vegetable-diseases/downy-mildew" target="_blank">cucurbit downy mildew</a>.</p><p>To manage such perennial challenges, the first step is to spend time closely looking at your plants. Do you notice any insects consistently hanging around, or molds colonizing leaves or other plant parts? How about symptoms such as blight, stunting, or leaves that are yellowing, browning or wilting?</p>
This white fungal growth is an early sign of powdery mildew on a leaf of susceptible summer squash. Matt Kasson, CC BY-ND
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