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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.
Glaciers are built and destroyed during ice ages and interglacial periods. These massive ice bodies hold three quarters of our freshwater, yet we don't have laws to protect them from climate change. When they melt, they increase sea levels, alter the Earth's reflectivity, wreak havoc for ocean and air currents, destabilize global ecosystems, warm our climate, and bring on floods that swamp millions of acres of coastal land. The critical ecological role they play to keep our global climate stable, and the environmental functions they provide, wither. And, as climate change warms glacier cores, collapsing glacier ice triggers tsunamis that send deadly massive ice blocks, rocks, earth, and billions of liters of water rushing down mountain valleys. It has happened before in the Himalayas, the Central Andes, the Rockies and Western Cascades, and the European Alps, and it will happen again. In his new book Meltdown, Jorge Daniel Taillant takes readers deeper into the cryosphere, connecting 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 communities. Taillant walks us through the little-known realm of the periglacial environment, a world of invisible subsurface rock glaciers that will outlive exposed glaciers as climate change destroys surface ice. He also looks at actions that can help stop climate change and save glaciers, exploring how society, politics, and our leaders have responded to address the global COVID-19 pandemic and yet largely continue to fail to address the even larger--looming and escalating--crisis of climate change. Our climate is deteriorating at a drastic rate, and it's happening right in front of us. Meltdown is about glaciers and their unfolding demise during one of the most critical moments of our planet's geological history. If we can reconsider glaciers in a whole new light and understand the critical role they play in our own sustainability, we may be able to save the cryosphere.
About the Author
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).