My first trip to Alaska was in 1982. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this State, the mountainous terrain and especially the glaciers, their pristine ‘white’ and as the sun hit the ice was very blue, like a summer sky. I marvelled at the apparent flowing of ice into a colorful meadow with thousands of wildflowers. You could walk to the edge of it. Cruising to the Columbia Glacier Bay we had to wait for hours to see any ‘calving’ – the breaking off of shanks of ice and plunging into the sea. Seals with their round black shining eyes and seabirds were waiting on ice floats for a passing fish and elegantly diving in or sliding off to catch their meal. What impressed me most was the incredible stillness and on and off the cracking in the glaciers sometimes evolving in a roar when a large piece just slid off and, causing a huge fountain of water, disappeared. Our cruise ship crew would lower a life boat and try to bring up some big pieces of ice. Some of the crew were masters in creating fantastic carvings which would grace the midnight buffet tables. We were treated with the smaller pieces in special drinks and if you would let the ice melt or take it into your mouth it tasted good. We were even allowed to keep the tall fancy glasses as souvenirs.
I have been back to Alaska during the years since on eleven other cruises up to 2012. Each time I would try to see the same sights I had seen during my first visit. The flowing ice river into the meadow had retreated each time and by now has disappeared altogether. The glaciers look ‘dirty’ – no more the pristine white color. The calving happens every few minutes and no life boat is lowered anymore to pick up ice floats for carvings or drinks. Maybe the laws have changed? I noticed that the wildlife has disappeared as well. The Mendenhall Glacier close to Juneau, the capital of Alaska, has retreated quite a long way, – it seems to be lower as well. I wonder if the water level has gone up with all this melting ice. What about the sea life, like whales, fish and other creatures, is their living environment changing? You betcha! The water is warming up as well and is not livable for certain other species.
Climate change? Environmentalists and naturalists have been talking about it and warning us for years, but incredibly, a lot of leading politicians do not believe in it. The other day I heard a fabulous group of singers perform a song with the line “He doesn’t believe in climate change because it’s not on the stock exchange” – making fun of a certain political leader.
What about the floods we have been experiencing? What about the hundreds of fires caused by lightning or stupid peoples’ behaviour (cigarette butts & camping fires) burning down unbelievably huge numbers of square miles of forest in Canada and valuable land in California repeatedly, year after year? What about the appearance of bears and cougars in our cities? What about the drought in the wettest part of Canada for instance? No snow during the winter and no rain for four months, but unusual spells of hot weather? Or in other areas so much snow that neighbors had to shovel out neighbors. No grass for animal grazers, storms uprooting huge trees taking boulevards and lawns with them like carpets, damaging cars, houses and killing if someone is at the wrong spot at the wrong time. Hail the size of golf balls and even larger causing billions of dollars in damage. Is all this due to bad weather? Is Mother Nature punishing us? Or do we face a serious case of climate change? Do we have to start thinking of building a copy of ‘Noah’s Arc’ to save the known species?
Just some thoughts of mine and I know I’m not the only one having this on my mind. If you haven’t thought along these lines, start thinking. What can we do about it before it is too late? We are able to fly to the moon or to Mars, even land a space probe on a distant comet – but we do not seem to have the political will to save the only planet that should matter to us: Planet Earth!
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