I recently had the privilege of exploring the Tasman Glacier in Mt Cook National Park and the icebergs scattered along its terminal lake via jet boat with the company, Glacier Explorers. It was the first time in a while that me and Jake were able to play tourists in this national park that is currently home.
Our tour began on the jetty docked alongside the smooth, milky waters that is the Tasman Lake. We learned that this milky appearance, known as “glacier flour”, consists of ground up rocks that the glacier rips off the mountain sides as it freezes and melts.
The Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s longest glacier, currently around 24km in length. It glistens at the bases of 3,000m high peaks and continues far up the Tasman Valley.
When the Glacier Explorers tours started 24 years ago, the guides would tell visitors that it would take around 400 years for the glacier to reach where it’s at today. In 24 years the glacier has retreated by 8km. In 1977, the glacial lake we were on didn’t even exist! The terminal wall was where the jetty currently sits.
The tour was a beautiful, fun experience, but also an enlightening and terrifying reminder of how quickly our world is changing.
Because of their location and size, glaciers in New Zealand are considered great indicators of the direct impact global warming is having on our environment. We can see the impact of today’s temperature changes on these glaciers in a quick response time of 3-4 years as opposed to decades or even centuries. Glaciers are considered good, independent measures of climate.
As the glaciologist Charlie Mitchell explains in this in-depth, interactive article from stuff.co.nz, “A glacier is useful because it is simple. […It] taps into a basic truth that everyone knows: Ice melts in the heat.” And the world is getting warmer.
I am writing this post a few weeks after jumping on multiple international flights and flying from one side of the planet to the other (and back), which has massively increased my carbon footprint. I will be the first to admit that I am far from being an avid environmentalist, but I do believe that we, as individuals, are all able to make small, conscious decisions in our everyday lives regarding our environmental impact AND that these small changes make a difference and contribute to the health of our natural environment.
*Rethink your reliance on plastics
*Get a re-usable coffee cup and water bottle
*Eat less meat throughout the week (or none!)
*Walk or bike to work
*Turn off water tap when washing dishes or brushing teeth
*Use less electricity - turn off unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronics
You’ve heard them all before. They’re the most common examples, but they are all small changes that we can easily make to our daily routines.
Convenience is a debilitating factor in changing daily habits, but there are many manageable changes that won’t affect the convenience of your life. Even making a few of these small changes contributes to the health of our planet.
We are so accustomed to things like single use plastics, that we use them without even thinking. The key to being efficient here is awareness and education. Educate your family and friends. Be aware of your daily choices. Learn to question everything.
*Do I need a plastic bag?
*Do I really need a straw to enjoy this drink?
*Can I make it through today without eating meat?
*Should I pick up that piece of trash?
*Did you inspire anybody else to live a little greener?
So, with the world’s disappearing frozen assets in mind, I encourage us (myself included) to think of small ways that we can contribute to the healing of our climate. It will take some time and practice to engrain this new way of thinking and living, but nothing compared to the time our planet has suffered as a result of our lifestyle.
Do you have any tips on making eco-friendly adjustments to your life?