“The snows of Kilimanjaro will make you a white coat where you can sleep”, sang, in the yéyé years, a syrupy French artist who had probably never set foot on the mountain of the three volcanoes in North-East Tanzania. . Fantasizing the beauties of the world is good. Preserving them is better. Because the “white coat” of Pascal Danel’s song could only be a distant memory, within less than three decades…
Fantasize or preserve
Based on satellite data, a recent report of Unesco predicts that the glaciers of a third of United Nations World Heritage sites will have melted by 2050, regardless of the measures taken to combat climate change. This world heritage covers nearly 10% of the Earth’s glacier surface, i.e. 18,600 glaciers located in some 50 major tourist sites, including sacred places.
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Within the masses of ice called to disappear at an unprecedented rate, under the effect of human activity, appear the glaciers of the French Alps or the American park of Yosemite, but also those of national parks of Africa: Virunga in the DRC , natural forest of Mount Kenya, Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda, and therefore Kilimanjaro…
Fantasizing is fine. Preserving is better. And this is precisely the challenge of COP27, the United Nations conference on climate change, which has just opened in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. It is clearly a question of passing from the incantations of the previous COPs to concrete actions. Africa, which is hosting the meeting, intends to demand effective funding from those who suggest that it give up a good part of its industrialization and, therefore, hypothetical emissions of greenhouse gases likely to accelerate a warming of the planetary climate for which the continent is hardly responsible.
Glaciers will not only be missed by romantic singers. As Unesco points out, the annual melting of 58 billion tons of ice will cause flooding, of which local populations will be the first victims. In addition, during dry seasons in some regions of the world, the disappearance of glaciers will lead to a shortage of fresh water and therefore food security problems.
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To counter the avoidable effects of this clearly inevitable disappearance, it is necessary to optimize warning systems and disaster risk reduction. Above all, it will be necessary to contain global warming to 1.5°C to hope to maintain the remaining glaciers in the other two thirds of the United Nations World Heritage List. An objective that the measures currently adopted absolutely do not guarantee. Will the decision makers be unable to climb the top of the challenges climatic?