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  • Writer's pictureBruce Smith

Going, going, gone

The world's glaciers are frozen reservoirs of water that sustain nearly 2 billion people worldwide. As glaciers melt away, so do the domestic and agricultural water supplies--the very lifeblood-- of those people. Of course, glacial runoff sustains a host of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, which are likewise important to humanity's quality of life.

A sweeping new study published in the journal Science (and summarized here), predicts the future of Earth's glaciers under a range of scenarios of global temperature rise. Under the most optimistic scenario of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level, modelling forecasts that half of the world's 215,000 mountain glaciers will melt away by century's end with a consequent rise in sea level of about 4 inches. And these mountain glaciers are but a fraction of the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which hold over 95% of all land-based ice. Their ongoing melting poses much greater threats to Earth's climate and ecosystems stability.

Although many smaller mountain glaciers are already doomed--as in Montana's Glacier National Park--aggressive action to reduce production of greenhouse gas emissions can insure that tens of thousands won't disappear. Scientific predictions similar to those reported here, in part, compelled me to write my middle-grade novel series, Legend Keepers. The books offer a hopeful and empowering story and role models for today's kids, who face a grim future without rapid converion to a clean energy economy.


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