Writer/photographer David Arnold has launched himself on a one-man crusade to revisit and photograph glaciers in Alaska and Switzerland that were previously photographed from the air by legendary explorer Bradford Washburn some seventy years ago. These photographs are part of a travelling exhibit (and website) called Double Exposure, aimed at providing a visual record of AGW-induced climate change.
I include these photos not as any endorsement for or against AGW theory, but simply because the visual record of our evolving planet is striking in its own right.
The Matternhorn on August 16th, 1960, 0900 CEST (left) and August 18th, 2005, 0910 CEST (right). Source: Double Exposure
Twenty Mile Glacier on August 8th, 1938, noon AKDT (left) and on August 10th, 2007, 1106 AKDT (right). Source: Double Explosure
Hugh Miller Glacier on August 12th, 1940, 1517 AKDT (left) and on June 12th, 2005, 1117 AKDT (right). Source: Double Exposure
I try to avoid wading into the unwinnable theological arguments of climate change because it often seems as if there are only two positions: 1) it’s all our fault and unless you give up everything and live in a yurt on the outskirts of Ulan Bator, Earth will be transformed into a toxic, hostile mess; or 2) nothing is warming up except for the knots in the knickers of filthy hippies, now cut down another acre of rainforest so we can rotisserie this polar bear cub the old-fashioned way.
My sense is that certainly, some parts of the planet are warming; but whether or not humans are the primary causal factor is something science can not yet answer definitively. It is safe to say that we have a long way to go before we can, with any certainty, isolate from our calculations the effects of other influential factors—not least of which is that enormous fusion reactor eight light-minutes away, producing the energy equivalent of 90 billion megatons of TNT exploding every single second.
Humans have a very mixed record at trying to craft “natural” solutions to problems with the local flora and fauna (think intentionally-introduced invasive species), so I am naturally wary of anyone at this imperfectly understood stage of the game who thinks they’ve got a bulletproof plan that needs to be implemented worldwide.
So while I would hesitate to endorse all of the “solutions” espoused by Mr. Arnold, I do nonetheless find something admirable in the effort to track the changes to the landscape. Our landscape is changing, and preserving some of it virtually (for posterity) is something I can approve of, even if I’m not 100% on board with the motivating premise.
Somebody who is a lot more motivated than me could attempt to do the same, from a non-aerial perspective, with the mountain and glacier photographs of Byron Harmon.
Crowfoot Glacier c1906-1934 by Byron Harmon (top) and in Sept. 2006 by Flickr user purplou78.
Robson Glacier c1906-1934 by Byron Harmon (top), and c2006 by Flickr user brilang (bottom).