Last Letter from a Glacier

July 22, 2019

Price of Oil:

So is this how it ends?

As our climate emergency deepens, as the once great Arctic icescapes melt before our eyes, and once majestic glaciers break up and melt and disappear, we are left to put plaques in their place to lament our lost world.

Our children and their children will inherit places full of eulogies that are a poignant tribute to out lost world and perverse reminder of the power of the oil barons and their backers like the Koch brothers, who put personal wealth and profit above everything else.

The first plaque to a glacier that is no more will be erected by scientists next month in Iceland. Researchers from Rice University in Houston will install a monument for the former Okjökull glacier in Borgarfjörður, Iceland.

As we know, the Arctic is warming rapidly and is on the frontline of climate change. As our world warms, the regions glaciers weep.

Iceland’s 400-plus glaciers have been melting steadily, now losing roughly 11 billion tons of ice every year. Scientists fear that by 2200, Iceland will no longer be a land of ice. All the country’s glaciers will have disappeared.

A century ago, the Okjökull glacier covered 15 sq km (5.8 sq miles) measuring some 50 metres thick. But ravaged by warming temperatures, it has now shrunk to barely one square km of ice less than 15 metres deep, meaning it is no longer classified as a glacier. It is now seen as “dead ice.”

The plaque to the lost glacier is inscribed in Icelandic and English and is “a letter to the future” authored by one of Iceland’s most prominent writers, Andri Snaer Magnason.

Magnason writes: “In the next 200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”

What’s left of the Okjökull glacier.


The demise of Okjökull, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change, will be memorialized with a plaque by researchers from Rice University in Houston.

Yes, we are memorializing glaciers now, and no, this is not a joke.

The monument to Okjökull glacier in Borgarfjörður, Iceland, will be installed on August 18 in a public ceremony.

“This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world,” Rice University anthropologist Cymene Howe said. “By marking Ok’s [short for Okjökull] passing, we hope to draw attention to what is being lost as Earth’s glaciers expire. 

“These bodies of ice are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet and frozen within them are histories of the atmosphere. They are also often important cultural forms that are full of significance.”

2 Responses to “Last Letter from a Glacier”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    Video 5:10 I assume he means “nuclear-armed” (and partly hydro-powered and thus even more dependent on the glacial melt) and not “nuclear-powered”.

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