Kilimanjaro Set To Lose Its Ice Field By 2015 Due To Climate Change
Tuesday 6th November, Mount Kilimanjaro/Marrakech: Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the few places in the world where ice and snow can be found on the equator, could lose its entire ice field by 2015 because of climate change, Greenpeace said today. This loss symbolises the fact that climate change may be felt first and hardest by the environment and people of Africa.
As environment ministers from around the world gather in Marrakech to finalise the Kyoto Protocol, a Greenpeace team on Mount Kilimanjaro spoke with journalists covering the climate negotiations in Marrakech live via a video conference.
“We are here to show government ministers coming to Marrakech that climate change is happening now and to remind them what is at risk if they fail to produce an environmentally sound protocol,” said Greenpeace campaigner Joris Thijssen, on Kilimanjaro. “It’s not just glaciers and ice fields around the world. In Morocco the country is suffering crippling drought for the third successive year which is affecting two-thirds of the country; the snow fields in the Atlas Mountains are disappearing and water supplies are at extremely low levels.”
“Russia, Australia, Japan and Canada are attempting to ensure that the final details of the Kyoto Protocol are as weak as possible, to protect their greenhouse gas polluting industries,” said Thijssen. “But this is the price we pay if climate change is allowed to go unchecked – here in Africa we will not only lose glaciers, but will face more extreme droughts and floods, widespread agriculture loses, and increased infectious diseases, all of which are felt hardest by people in developing nations.”
In February this year Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State University, reported that at least one-third of the ice field on Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa has disappeared, or melted, in the last dozen years. More than 80 percent of the ice field has been lost since it was first mapped in 1912. Thompson’s findings come after two decades of research conducted by Ohio State's Byrd Polar Research Center.
Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of more than 2500 scientists around the world, released its latest report on climate change. They expect that the average global temperature could increase up to nearly 6 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years. However ecosystems could only tolerate a 2 degree Celsius increase before risking unpredictable and non-linear damage.
“This is not just about losing beautiful landscapes. Climate change effects the whole ecosystem and that means people’s lives all around the globe,” said Thijssen. “Businesses and governments must realise that unless coal, oil and gas, which produce the bulk of global greenhouse emissions, are rapidly phased out and replaced with renewable energy sources, we are going to see more and more devastation, and face higher and higher costs of attempting to keep up with an unpredictably changing world.”