• Thomas Enzendorfer

The First Memorial To Commemorate Climate Change Loss

With all of the losses we are taking with climate change- should we start erecting memorials as a visual reminder of the effects of our carbon footprint and choices? On August 18th, Iceland will do exactly that by memorializing the loss of Okjökull Glacier, the first glacier to be completely melted because of climate change. Glaciers contain histories of the atmosphere, so to lose them means to lose history, in addition to the effects it has on rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, climate systems, natural disasters, and effects on health.

“This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world,” said anthropologist Cymene Howe of Rice University in Houston, in a statement. “By marking Ok’s passing, we hope to draw attention to what is being lost as Earth’s glaciers expire.

The plaque on the glacier reads: “In the next 200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path, This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.” There is also an inscription with the figure "415 ppm CO2" on the plaque, which references the record-breaking amount of carbon dioxide recorded in the atmosphere earlier this year.

In my native Austria, I had the experience of seeing glacier loss with my own eyes. Okjökull will certainly not be the last glacier to be lost to climate change, as scientists believe that by 2200 the 400-plus glaciers in Iceland will all disappear. Dominic Boyer, anthropologist, told CNN that glaciologists predict that "all of Iceland's glacial mass will disappear in the next 200 years, with a massive impact to cultural heritage, tourism, hydroelectric power and fisheries in Iceland”.

Hopefully this memorial will cause others to think about their effect on the planet and that this trend will continue. It is a great way to make people pause and think about the responsibility we have on the future and the damaging effects that are happening daily due to climate change.

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