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Yes, There Are Melting Glaciers of Africa Too by ClimateYou Assistant Editor Idiatu Jalloh

When most people think about glaciers, they do not think about Africa. However, there are glaciers in Africa too. And these glaciers are all located in sub-Sahara Africa, up top three of Africa’s biggest and highest mountains: Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Rwenzori Mountains. Although these glaciers have been there since ancient times, the glaciers of Africa are only starting to be known to people around the world. But as their popularity grows, their size is rapidly reducing. The glaciers of Africa are in imminent danger of disappearing this century. And scientists monitoring the glaciers are blaming global warming for the rapid melting of glaciers’ ice. Already climate change has caused almost eighty percent of the ice to melt, and from evidence such as photographs taken early in the 20th century,  much of this melting happened this past century, a rate undoubtedly much faster than past centuries.  Based on the rate the glaciers are melting, scientists predict they could be gone in twenty years, or by 2030.

Glaciers on Margherita Peak on Rwenzori mountains. http://www.amusingplanet.com/2014/09/the-disappearing-glaciers-of-africa.html

The melting of the glaciers is an indication of the rapid rise in temperature in the region. If these glaciers melt, they could threaten the ecosystem. Even though they are unknown to many people around the world, including Africans, these glaciers have been very important in sustaining the lives of millions of people, animals, and plants in their regions.  For example the glacier of the Rwenzori mountains, dubbed the “African Alps,” is the highest source of water for the Nile River, so “it disappearance threatens dozens of plant and animal species that call the range home.”  This threat also true for other living things that are dependent on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

Though the problem of the disappearing glaciers is known, the solution to the problem remains elusive and this is because as Luc Hardy, explorer and founder of Pax Arctic said, “it’s not like there’s a specific local cause that you could act on. It’s pretty much all of us, all over the world, creating C02 in the air.” The problem is caused by global warming. And for as long as temperatures keep rising, these glaciers will disappear even if the locals living near and dependent on these glaciers for fresh water are not contributing to global warming.  To solve this problem, everyone has to take responsibility for climate change. As a Kenyan Alpinist, James Kagambi said, “[a] lot of times, people think that ‘I’m only one in a billion people.’ But a’long journey starts with one step. If you want to save our world, that journey can start with one person. Do what is right, and maybe your family will follow suit, your clan will follow suit, your tribe will follow suit, and maybe your whole country will follow suit.” It is not right that regions with the lowest carbon emissions are feeling the greatest impacts of climate change.


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