I was struck, and not for the first time, by how much easier it is to ruin an ecosystem than to run one.Elizabeth Kolbert in Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future
When Glacier National Park opened as a national park in 1910, the park had at least 150 glaciers. In 2022 only 26 named glaciers remain in the park Some of these have lost as much as 80% of their mass since the 1970s.
The first climate report warning the U.S. government of humans’ impact on and degradation of the climate landed on the desk of President Lyndon Johnson in 1965.
My husband and I spent a good chunk of our summer chasing waterfalls, first along the Ring Road in Iceland, then in Glacier National Park. The effect of climate change on our Earths’ magnificent waterfalls haunts me during our travels and as I think about our climate changing. The Weeping Wall in Glacier stretches along part of the Going to the Sun Road; at one time visitors watched water cascade down its rocky face. During our visit in August, parts of the wall remained dry.
The two photos I’ve shared here boast bright blue skies. These are the skies I saw on the days I hiked to these falls. But Elizabeth Kolbert offers a vision of a future without blue skies in her book Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.
I wonder how many waterfalls have dried up in Glacier. I wonder what the future impact on waterfalls in Iceland will be. Chasing waterfalls has morphed from a physical journey for me to a metaphorical one. We have frittered away our opportunity to chase the waterfall solution to climate change since 1965–at least. Now we face a future with fewer waterfalls to chase.