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Major glaciers, including in Yosemite and Kilimanjaro, will be gone within 23 years due to climate change, U.N. report warns

One-third of the world’s most iconic glaciers have been “condemned to disappear” within 23 years, in accordance to a brand new report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The destiny of those glaciers, which embrace these in Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Dolomites, is all however certain, UNESCO warned, as carbon emissions trigger them to quickly deteriorate. 

There are roughly 18,600 glaciers in 50 UNESCO World Heritage websites, spanning practically 25,500 square-miles and making up about 10% of the planet’s glaciers. But since 2000, these glaciers have been quickly shedding their ice — about 58 billion tons each year, an quantity equal “to the combined annual water use of France and Spain,” the report says. That lost ice is answerable for about 5% of world sea stage rise.

That deterioration of the glaciers — referred to as “sentinels of climate change” by UNESCO — is spurred by carbon dioxide emissions. This sort of greenhouse fuel emission has elevated by about 90% since 1970, in accordance to the EPA, with most of these emissions coming from the burning of fossil fuels and industrial processes. China emits probably the most carbon dioxide, the EPA says, adopted by the U.S. 

Most of the world’s continents will be impacted by the loss. 

In Europe, glaciers in Italy’s Dolomites and France and Spain’s Pyrenees Mont Perdu will all “very likely” disappear by 2050, UNESCO  warned, and Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park in the U.S. are additionally doubtless to see glaciers lost. Yosemite has two glaciers remaining that shaped through the Little Ice Age — the Lyell and Maclure glaciers — that play a vital role in surrounding ecosystems by offering year-round chilly water

Africa, nevertheless, will doubtless be the hardest-hit continent by the lack of glaciers, numbers-wise. According to UNESCO, each single World Heritage web site on the continent “will likely be gone by 2050,” including these positioned in Kilimanjaro National Park and Mount Kenya. 

Many different UNESCO World Heritage web site glaciers are endangered as nicely. Those positioned in China’s Three Parallel Rivers space have lost probably the most ice out of another UNESCO glaciers since 2000 — greater than 57%. It’s additionally the fastest-melting glacier on UNESCO’s endangered checklist. Argentina’s Los Alerces National Park is house to the glacier ranked No. 2 for mass loss relative to 2000, which has lost 45.6% of its ice. 

As daunting because the information is, UNESCO mentioned in a press launch that there’s “only one effective solution: quickly reduce CO2 emissions.” 

The glaciers they predict will be gone by 2050 will not get well even when the world manages to cut back international warming, the entity mentioned. And if emissions proceed “business-as-usual,” about half of the glaciers at UNESCO websites will be gone by 2100. 

To forestall these websites from disappearing in the subsequent 80 years, drastic measures should be taken, UNESCO mentioned. And the one means to doubtlessly do that’s to restrict international warming to 1.5 levels Celsius in contrast to pre-industrial instances. 

“Only a rapid reduction in our CO2 emissions levels can save glaciers and the exceptional biodiversity that depends on them,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay mentioned in a press launch. 

Limiting warming to 1.5 levels Celsius, nevertheless, could not be doable. Last week, different U.N. companies issued their very own experiences that discovered there’s “no credible pathway” to making that occur.

“Under current policies, the world is headed for 2.8 degrees of global heating by the end of the century,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres mentioned. “In other words, we are headed for a global catastrophe.” 

As the UNESCO report explains, glaciers are “crucial sources of life on Earth,” offering water resources to half of humanity. The basins drained by glaciers are additionally house to roughly 50% of world biodiversity “hotspots.” Many Indigenous teams and communities have cultural and non secular ties to glaciers as nicely. 

“When glaciers melt rapidly, millions of people face water scarcity and the increased risk of natural disasters such as flooding, and millions more may be displaced by the resulting rise in sea levels,” Bruno Oberle, IUCN director normal mentioned. “This study highlights the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in Nature-based Solutions, which can help mitigate climate change and allow people to better adapt to its impacts.”

Guterres informed CBS News on Thursday that COP27, slated to start subsequent week, will be important in the battle in opposition to the climate disaster. The most vital factor for nations to maintain in thoughts, he mentioned, is that “a clear political will” will cut back emissions at a wanted tempo. 

That’s why, he mentioned he proposed a pact between rising and developed nations. 

“If that pact doesn’t take place, we will be doomed,” he mentioned. “Because we need to reduce emissions. … We must recognize loss and damage and we must create an institutional framework to deal with it.” 

CBS News Correspondent Pamela Falk contributed to this report. 

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