In recent years, the effects of global warming on the environment have become increasingly apparent, with the melting of glaciers being perhaps one of the most prominent examples. The many and varied implications of this phenomenon have drawn much scholarly attention, with much of the focus being on how many glaciers have been lost to climate change.
In fact, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Nature Communications, a total of over 275,000 glaciers across the globe have melted away due to global warming. This is an alarming statistic, representing roughly two thirds of all existing glaciers and suggesting a shocking scale of human-induced climate change.
The loss of these glaciers does not merely indicate a bleaker landscape but has a direct effect on the lives of millions of people. The disappearance of glaciers is linked to a decrease in water availability, as well as increases in coastal flooding and disruption of food production. Over 17 million people are currently dependent on glacial water sources, representing a huge vulnerability concerning their water security in the face of rapid glacier loss.
In order to mitigate this problem, governments and citizens alike must take proactive steps towards reducing their own contributions to the carbon emissions that are causing the global warming in the first place. This includes changes in the way we produce and consume energy, manage transport, and dispose of waste, as well as more ambitious policy endeavors such as the implementation of renewable energy sources and carbon pricing.
When it comes to glaciers, particular attention must also be paid to their protection and management. This can be achieved through research and monitoring, using both man-made and natural interventions such as atmospheric cooling and glacial waste reduction measures. Doing this will allow us to maximize the resilience of glaciers and increase their protection against the impacts of climate change.
Although the numbers are disheartening, more and more action is being taken against global warming, not least in the form of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders, this agreement serves as an important starting point towards a collective effort to reduce global warming. It is up to us to make sure that this process continues and that the global community strives to make real and concrete change.