Should we hold funerals for melting glaciers? | The Tylt

Should we hold funerals for melting glaciers?

The Earth is warming at an alarming rate, and the U.N. continues to put out warnings that the world will need to make "unprecedented changes" in the next decade if humanity has any hope of preventing widespread disaster. In Iceland, government officials and researchers gathered in August to memorialize the country's first dead glacier. The group enacted a monument that both mourns what is lost, and acknowledges the high stakes for the future. Will public memorials of natural elements lost to climate change make a difference?

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Should we hold funerals for melting glaciers?
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When most people think of mourning, they think of lost loved ones. But for many, the loss of landscapes due to climate change is just as heart-wrenching, if not more. In Iceland this August, a group of researchers and government officials hiked to the country's "once-iconic" glacier, Okjökull, to commemorate the site with a plaque. BuzzFeed News' Jon Passantino reports on the plaque's inscription:

“Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier," the plaque presented Sunday reads in English and Icelandic. "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 know what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it."

The monument and ceremony do much more than mourn. They serve as a call to action. The plaque's words hold the world accountable, as the generations long after we are gone will be the only ones to know whether humanity rose to the challenge or failed.

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Others argue that memorializing things like ex-glaciers is not productive. A glacier-funeral does not create change, and some find it to be a ridiculous concept altogether.

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Earlier in August, Greenland experienced an extreme loss in a single day, in the form of 11 billion tons of surface ice, per CNN. Although some melting is to be expected every summer, the rates at which ice is melting is far outside the norm:

This July alone, Greenland's ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice — the equivalent of around 80 million Olympic swimming pools — according to Mottram. She told CNN the expected average would be between 60-70 billion tons at this time of year.
The weather conditions that brought a heat wave to Europe last week have reached the Arctic, where scientists say they could trigger one of Greenland's biggest ice melts since 1950, when reliable records began.

In the midst of these conditions, Iceland's glacier-memorial is a new strategy for change. It's one that can help people process what has been lost and realizes the circumstances for the future. 

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Even so, the organized nature of this funeral is a bit much for some. Rather than mourning what is lost, time would be better spent educating the public on how to reduce its carbon footprint or researching solutions to combat climate change as a whole. Upon hearing the news of the glacier-funeral, one person responded:

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Should we hold funerals for melting glaciers?
A festive crown for the winner
#MournTheGlaciers
#DontMournGlaciers