By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Approximately one hundred people stood on a grassy knoll in Iceland on Sunday and held a ‘funeral’ to one of the country’s best known glaciers. The Okjokull glacier, dubbed Ok, say scientists, is the first glacier to disappear due to climate change.
“Ok [Okjokull] is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path, We know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,” said the inscription on a plaque entitled “A Letter to the Future” and written by Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason and placed where the glacier once stood.
Among those saying ‘goodbye’ to Ok were Iceland’s prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, Iceland’s environment minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and former UN human rights commissioner and Irish President, Mary Robinson.
“I hope this ceremony will be an inspiration not only to us here in Iceland but also for the rest of the world, because what we are seeing here is just one face of the climate crisis,” said the prime minister.
The funeral for the 700-year-old glacier, however, is a being held a few years late. The Okjokull lost its ‘glacier status’ back in 2014, after NASA determined that the body of ice decreased from a span of 15 square miles in 1901 to less than 0.5 square miles.
The ceremony this past weekend was to remind people all over the world that climate change is changing the planet.
Cymene Howe, associate professor of anthropology at Rice University in Texas said in an interview to Boston’s WBUR radio station, “By memorializing a fallen glacier, we want to emphasize what is being lost or what is dying, and we also want to draw attention to the fact that climate change is also something that humans have accomplished, if you will, although it’s not something that we should be particularly proud of.”