X

Dozens Hold Funeral for a 'Symbolic' Death

Iceland bids farewell to its first glacier lost to climate change
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 18, 2019 3:30 PM CDT
This combination of Sept. 14, 1986, left, and Aug. 1, 2019 photos provided by NASA shows the shrinking of the Okjokull glacier on the Ok volcano in west-central Iceland.   (NASA via AP)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – It was a funeral for ice. With poetry, moments of silence, and political speeches about the urgent need to fight climate change, Icelandic officials, activists, and others bade goodbye to what once was a glacier, the AP reports. 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, 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. This was Iceland's first glacier to disappear. But Sigurdsson said all of the nation's ice masses will be gone in 200 years. "We see the consequences of the climate crisis," Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said. "We have no time to lose." Jakobsdottir said she will make climate change a priority when Nordic leaders and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Reykjavik on Tuesday. 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."

(Read more climate change stories.)

My Take on This Story
Show results  |  
7%
4%
41%
4%
16%
29%