Lost natural landmarks cue the beginning of a global disaster—one which will strike the poorest communities hardest.
RIP the environment. It feels like everyday day there’s a new story threatening to throw you into a spell of grief as we watch the world change irreversibly. If it’s not the lack of action to extinguish the inferno formally known as the Amazon rainforest, it’s the Australian minster responsible for natural disasters saying he’s “unsure if climate change is manmade”.
The latest causality comes from the edge of the arctic circle, where a glacier in the northern part of Sweden has melted away, taking with it the record for the country’s highest mountain peak and any doubt we’ve truly entered a climate emergency. Close to the border with Norway, where the country turns into thousands of miles of Fjords, Kebnekaise has two peaks. When both were first measured in 1880, the southern point was much higher, but when scientists look at this year’s records, the northern peak was revealed to be 1.2 meters taller. The geography professor responsible for recent recordings, Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, told the Guardian that over the past two decades the peak has been melting at a rate of one meter per year, adding it’s “A very obvious, very clear signal to everyone in Sweden that things are changing.”
Unlike other governments (looking at you Brazil) Sweden’s takes the environment seriously. Half of the country’s energy comes from renewables, they gave us Greta Thunberg, and their foreign minister recently called out the US for our “sad and dangerous” approach to preserving the arctic. (Although some times even they take it too far: one researcher recently suggested we should turn to cannibalism to combat food shortages, suggesting we throw off the conservative shackles that eating other people is a bit icky if we’re to seriously try and survive the impending apocalypse.)
Across the northern hemisphere, and around both polar ice caps, melting ice has become the hallmark of the impending disaster. Last month Iceland held a funeral for one of its glaciers Okjokull, which was declared dead in 2014. Thinned to the point where it could no longer move, Okjokul’s lethargy stood in contrast to the rapidly warming environment that ultimately killed it.
And again the scientists and experts keep telling us how bad the situation is. This week, global leaders have banded together to forewarn the rest of us that unless grave action is taken, we run the risk of hurtling into a “climate apartheid”, where poorer populations will be stuck living in the areas most affected by climate change. While some will be able to keep the blistering heat of the diminishing world at bay by jacking up the air conditioner, others will face butterfly effects of mass-energy consumption: as one part of the world stays cool, the other boils.