Icelanders Hold Funeral for First Glacier Lost to Climate Change

Icelanders Hold Funeral for First Glacier Lost to Climate Change August 20, 2019

Iceland officials including the prime minister recently gathered to mourn… for ice. Specifically, they hosted a funeral for the first glacier the country lost due to climate change.

The service included poetry, moments of silence, and speeches aimed at reducing the threat of climate change, according to AP.

Icelandic geologist Oddur Sigurðsson pronounced the Okjokull glacier extinct about a decade ago. But on Sunday he brought a death certificate to the made-for-media memorial.

After about 100 people made a two-hour hike up a volcano, children installed a memorial plaque to the glacier, now called just “Ok,” minus the Icelandic word for glacier.

The glacier used to stretch six square miles (15 square kilometers), Sigurdsson said. Residents reminisced about drinking pure water thousands of years old from Ok.

“The symbolic death of a glacier is a warning to us, and we need action,” former Irish president Mary Robinson said.

Sigurðsson says all of Iceland’s ice masses will be extinct in 200 years, which is particularly troubling for many citizens who see the glaciers as an important part of the country’s landscape. The death of this particular glacier is seen as a call to action, according to officials in Iceland.

Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said there’s “no time to lose” when it comes to the climate crisis.

Jakobsdottir said she will make climate change a priority when Nordic leaders and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Reykjavik on Tuesday.

“I know my grandchildren will ask me how this day was and why I didn’t do enough,” said Gunnhildur Hallgrimsdottir, 17.

The plaque, which notes the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, also bears a message to the future: “This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”

This is a powerful symbolic gesture, but activists say what’s most important is what comes next: the action. We’ll see if that part comes to fruition.

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