Glacial ‘Til

mount athabasca, jasper national park, alberta, canada
In a land of ever ice
The snow survived
The summer heat
Since long before
Both you and I

The glaciers die
The cold retreats
To summer’s entreat
They’re gone before
Both you and I

Receding Glacier
Mount Athabasca
Jasper National Park
Alberta, Canada

Taken during travels, 2019

My uncle responded to An Ode to the Seven, which also features a photograph of Mount Athabasca, with two photographs he’d shot of the mountain showing the receding glacier. The first, taken in 1966, shows a mountainside brimming with ice. The second, taken nearly twenty years later in 1985, shows a retreat well underway. With this one, taken thirty-two years later in 2017, you can really see just how much global warming has affected this glacier in Jasper National Park, at the edge of the vast Columbia Icefield.

I took this photograph on a day when the atmosphere was thick with wildfire smoke. (It took a fair bit of filtering in Lightroom and Photoshop to get what little clarity there is in this image.) The smoke had sifted through the British Columbia Rocky Mountains into Alberta from the record setting forest fires that year.

Among the many challenges facing us in the effort to reverse the pattern of global warming is the increasing number and intensity of forest fires around the world. Trees are, of course, performing a significant role in filtering carbon from the atmosphere. The fires at once release enormous quantities of carbon back into the atmosphere while reducing the number of trees able to absorb it.