An Ohio State University professor and scientist at the Ohio Berg Center presented evidence to an audience at UMD on Nov. 11 that climate change is causing glacier and ice melting which will result in damage to the Earth.
Lonnie G. Thompson proved that ice is physically disappearing from the mountains due to pollution. Fossil fuels being exposed to the atmosphere are believed to be the prominent cause of glacier changes.
Fossil fuels, substances used for power and electricity that can be burned thus polluting the atmosphere, are used worldwide and are causing noticeable changes to the Earth. “We tend to think locally, but the impacts are global,” Thompson said.
Thompson explained that even if we completely stopped using fossil fuels today, they will keep effecting the environment for about 1,000 years.
Thompson studies glacier ice samples from around the globe; tracking glacier movement and melting from major mountains such as Kilimanjaro, Papua, Quelccaya, and Naimona’nyi.
Because of climate change, 27 percent of the ice that was on Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2000 is now gone. “It is the most visited natural foreign structure in the world, but if you want to see the ice you have to go quick,” Thompson told the audience.
In the current century, sea level is rising 2 millimeters per year from loss of glaciers, ice sheets, and thermal expansion of the ocean, according to Thompson’s findings. If this rapid increase in sea level continues, it will eventually put the majority of the Earth’s continents underwater.
Jane Wattrus, an environmental professor at St. Scholastica, agreed with Thompson’s lecture. “It is the number one problem facing humanity and the general public is pretty clueless,” Wattrus said about global warming.
Thompson concludes that society has “three options” -- to talk about prevention, to adapt to the environment changes by changing ways of life, or to suffer from the environmental changes of the Earth that we take for granted. Our ancestors and us have been hurting the planet for centuries.
The lecture ended with a few brief examples of what the public can do to slow down climate change. These include actions that simply use less energy to stop using fossil fuels; such as riding a bike instead of driving, unplug appliances when not in use, and buy local so international trade and productivity is not needed.
Thompson does not believe the human population is doing as much as they could to prevent global warming. “Change is coming slow, glaciers are changing quicker,” he said.
Click here to watch a video of Dr. Thompson presenting a lecture on global warming, titled "Ice Adventures: Tracking Evidence of Abrupt Climate Change Across the Topics."