UN Warns World Heritage Glaciers Will Disappear by 2050
About a third of glaciers in the world will be gone within the next three decades
Climate change and rising temperatures are serious concerns for environmentalists. Every year we are seeing the drastic effects of climate change across the globe. As per the latest climate report by the United Nations, about a third of glaciers in the world including World Heritage glaciers will be gone by the year 2050. If the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, half of such World Heritage glaciers will vanish by 2100.
If the global temperature can be limited then only two-third of glaciers can survive. In 2015, countries signed for Paris Agreement at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The goal was to match 1.5-degree Celsius mark. But the changes are happening at a rapid pace and are quite alarming. The only way out is to bring a reduction in global emissions of greenhouse gases and it has to be implemented seriously.
The glaciers that are estimated to vanish by 2050 include the ones located in Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks. Such glaciers are known to provide major water resources to the ecosystems and local communities. These world heritage sites are legally protected sites. As per the reports, damage to one-third of World Heritage glaciers will happen regardless of the initiatives to save them, which poses a severe biodiversity loss. The data shows that the Paris Agreement has not achieved the goals which were agreed upon by several countries.
While there is a need to reduce emissions, the experts suggest some adaptive steps which include improvement in glacier monitoring, and timely warning systems for floods and other catastrophes associated with glacial retreat. The suggestive measures also include working with indigenous people as they have knowledge based on managing resources.
The glacier losses that have been predicted for 2050 include the last standing glaciers in Africa on Mount Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro and Rwenzori-Virunga mountains. Some are present in Europe and North America. Climate change will also affect the glaciers present at Olympic National Park in Washington state and Machu Picchu in Peru.
U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published data that takes into account the ice loss using satellite data and also the models that help in figuring out ice thickness. About 1,300 billion tons of ice has been lost at World Heritage glaciers between 2000 and 2020. This is equal to the total volume of water consumed by Spain and France, collectively.
These glaciers are known to provide natural habitats to numerous species and their depletion will cause serious damage to the ecosystems. Such trends are worrying for areas with large populations, especially in countries like China and India which are dependent on water coming from mountains.