Okjökull was the first Icelandic glacier to disappear due to climate change, and now it will be the first to have a monument to “mark its passing.” Let us hope that it will be the last.However scientists fear that all of Iceland’s over 400 glaciers will disappear by 2200.
The glacier’s given name Okjökull is often irronically shortened to OK, but nothing is OK about what has happened. The disappearing glaciers are expected to change life in Iceland. The country’s hydroelectric power plants use water produced by the seasonal melting of glaciers. Fishing and tourism industries could also be adversely impacted by the melting of glaciers. Tragically the expected changes won’t just change life in Iceland, it will change life across the planet.
“We are talking about the ethical consequences in the future of what we do today,” explained the memorial’s architects Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer in a recent interview.
“We are living with the decisions of our parents and passing a future planet to our children and grandchildren, who will have to live with our decisions.”
With this memorial The Rice University anthropologists have wanted to create a lasting commemoration to the glacier. “With this memorial, we want to underscore that it is up to us, the living, to collectively respond to the rapid loss of glaciers and the ongoing impacts of climate change,” Howe said.
Now researchers from Rice University along with author Andri Snær Magnason, geologist Oddur Sigurðsson and members of the Icelandic Hiking Society plan to install a monument to remember the lost glacier.
“In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path,” warns the plaque, which will be installed at the site of the “glacier-no-more” this Sunday (August 18).
The poignant words, written by Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason, are supposed to be “a letter to the future” and reads as follows: “A Letter To The Future OK is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”
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