Yes, today is World Environment Day (the UN says so). Official theme is "melting ice". Coincidentally, the G8 summit in Germany starts tomorrow. We've got a team on the scene, and you can follow their work here. But this update isn't about Bush, Merkel or even Harper. It's about the melting glaciers of the Himalayas, and the nearly 1 billion people whose water supply could be affected.
Recently a Greenpeace expedition went to the Himalayas to document the retreat of these glaciers. There's a feature story here by a Chinese journalist who joined the expedition (along with an audio slideshow by the expedition photographer).
Or check out this mini-documentary (it's under five minutes)....
But while we're on the subject of global politik and climate change, there was a good op-ed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon running yesterday. My favorite bit:
Our debates in the Security Council, often dull affairs conducted in opaque diplomatese, occasionally burst astonishingly to life - and for moments become anything but diplomatic. I recall in one discussion in April, when the representative of Namibia spoke out on his perception of the dangers of climate change. "This is no academic exercise," he all but shouted. "It is a matter of life or death for my country."
He told of how the Namib and Kalahari deserts are expanding, destroying farmland and rendering whole regions uninhabitable. This made me think of my own country, Korea, more and more often choked by dust storms swirling across the Yellow Sea from the expanding Gobi Desert.
From shrinking glaciers, to growing deserts it's obvious that we're facing, as Al Gore puts it, a planetary emergency.
Oh, and there's also the Greenland ice sheet. I went to Greenland as part of a 2005 Greenpeace expedition. We provided logistics support to NASA funded glaciologists, and recorded testimonials from locals about the changes they've seen in their lifetime.
I remember one day in particular. When our helicopter took two scientists out to set up their measuring equipment on the previously stable Kangerdlugssuaq glacier - and found it missing. Not missing completely mind you, but it had retreated roughly three miles in just a few years.
I'm pretty sure melt pond photo on the front page of the official UN World Environment Day website is from that trip. Seeing it reminded me how far we've come on the climate change issue over these past two years. Back in 2005, the debate (in the US anyway) was still largely about whether climate change is our fault, and if it is an emergency. We're past that now.
Today, the question is not IF we should do something, but more own of how fast we can do it. What we need is a global energy revolution. Everyone who is ready should not wait for our governments to get their act together. Instead, join the revolution today.