Meltdown: The Earth Without Glaciers


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Meltdown: The Earth Without Glaciers Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: Oxford University Press Inc
string(3) "296"
Pages: 296 Language: English ISBN: 9780190080327 Categories: , , , , ,

We hear about pieces of ice the size of continents breaking off of Antarctica, rapidly melting glaciers in the Himalayas, and ice sheets in the Arctic crumbling to the sea, but does it really matter? Will melting glaciers change our lives? Absolutely. The ice ages and the interglacial periods like we live in now are built and destroyed by glaciers. Glaciers hold three quarters of our freshwater, yet we don’t have laws to protection them from climate change. Melting glaciers raise the seas, alter global ecosystems, warm our climate and bring on floods that swamp millions of acres of land destroying coastal ecosystems and leaving hundreds of millions homeless. Healthy glaciers help keep our planet cool by reflecting solar heat away from the Earth and provide critical freshwater supply to billions that live within their meltwater runoff basins. But melting glaciers alter ocean temperature, warm the atmosphere and cause havoc to the ocean currents and to the global jet stream, causing inclement weather, prolonged and recurrent droughts, heavy rains and intense, frequent and unpredictable storms. As glaciers melt away, their critical environmental functions and services will wither. And as climate change warms their core, their weakening internal structure will cause a growing number of glacier tsunamis that can send deadly massive ice blocks, rocks, earth and billions of liters of water rushing down mountain valleys that take out anything in their path. It has happened before in the Himalayas, in the Central Andes, in the Rockies and Western Cascades, and in the European Alps and it will happen again. As glaciers melt so do the vast swaths of permafrost environments that thrive in their surroundings, where thawing millenary terrain rich in ice but also in methane gas captured hundreds of thousands of years ago, is now released into the atmosphere intensifying climate change even further. In his new book Meltdown, Jorge Daniel Taillant takes readers deeper into the cryosphere and connects the dots between climate change, glacier melt and the impacts that receding glacier ice brings to livability on Earth, to our environments and to our neighborhoods. He walks us through the little-known realm of the periglacial environment, a world where invisible subsurface rock glaciers with solid ice cores that will outlive exposed glaciers in our warming climate, but will they suffice to maintain our cryosphere and climate ecology in balance? In two closing chapters Taillant looks at actions that can help stop climate change and save glaciers and also contrasts how society, politics and our leaders have responded to address the COVID-19 pandemic and yet largely failed to address the even larger looming and escalating crisis of climate change. Meltdown is about glaciers and their unfolding demise during one of the most critical moments of our climate crisis. We may still be in time to save the cryosphere, if we can reconsider glaciers in a whole new light and understand the critical role they play in our own sustainability and if we can awaken to see how through glacier melt, geological ages are changing right before our eyes.

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Melting glaciers are the primary cause of the rising sea level. Few people are as familiar with this topic as Jorge Daniel Taillant. In Meltdown, he brings glaciers to life. Taillant takes us on a very personal discovery of the disappearing world of glaciers, warning the world of the risks and encouraging their protection. He brings an important perspective that should be read and heeded. * John Englander, oceanographer and author of Moving to Higher Ground: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward * This book is well written, enjoyable, and creative. Jorge Daniel Taillant brings a more light-hearted view to glaciers while recognizing and discussing the key issues in an understandable way. * Eugenie S. Euskirchen, Associate Professor, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks * Taillant masterfully takes us on a journey through the profound changes our cryosphere is suffering from climate change and how melting glaciers that are vanishing around the world will not only destroy delicate ecosystems, from oceans to coastlines and from urban environments to forests, but how they will radically change how we live on Earth in ways not yet imagined. His unique capacity to bring together media, science, politics, and society in understandable prose offers a powerful wake-up call to our deepening climate crisis. * Durwood Zaelke, President, Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development *

Author Biography

Jorge Daniel Taillant is Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Environment. Born in Argentina, raised in California, and now living in Florida, he has lived and worked around the world to promote sustainability and social justice. Taillant was key to getting the first glacier protection law passed in 2010, and he has developed educational materials about glaciers for children and adults. He is the author of numerous publications on the impacts of mining on glaciers, including his most recent book Glaciers: The Politics of Ice (Oxford University Press, 2015).