Iceland's First Glacier Lost to Climate Change Will Have a Monument Intended to Redirect Us

Iceland has lost its first glacier to climate change and the metal memorial erected in its honor should signal more than memories as we continue to navigate climate change.

We've all seen the footage of the drowning polar bears, and watched in collective horror as they rifled through our persistent garbage to find something to eat. As of August 18, 2019, through a glacial monument being erected for the general public on the site of what was once Okjökull glacier in Borgarfjörður, Iceland, we can now also see a stark remembrance of the root of all these problems--us.

The first comparative satellite images of the dead glacier are now available, thanks to the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat system. Utilizing the Thematic Mapper (TM) on Landsat 5 and the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8, incontrovertible evidence of the rapid diminishment reported by Icelandic geologists as far back as 1945. Okjökull once stretched across roughly 6 square miles in 1890. By 2012 it occupied a bare 7/10 of a mile

Nicknamed "Ok Volcano" for short and already the subject of an eye-opening film by Rice University anthropologists Dominic Boyer and Cymene Howe entitled Not Ok, this glacier is situated in the west-central region of Iceland. The Ok Volcano glacier is one of about 300 smaller glaciers that have been identified in the area as dead or dying.

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Glacial retreat all over the world continues to plague every area of biodiversity and leaves no ecosystem unscathed. Installed with support from members of the Icelandic Hiking Society and the glaciologist who first identified Okjökull as dying, Oddur Sigurðsson, the Ok Volcano placard is not intended to play sad violin strings to any one set of political ideologies, but to raise inescapable awareness of the unnecessary impact humanity places on our environment simply by virtue of carelessness and entitlement. 

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