Above Photo: People look at the snow at the site of the former Okjökull glacier where a monument was unveiled. Jeremie Richard / AFP / Getty Images
To put things into perspective, if the Antarctic ice sheet melted, it would raise global sea levels by around 200 feet. We’ve already seen a noticeable loss of mass on the west end of the glacier, one of the many reasons why we should all be screaming. And Iceland most certainly is: Locals there just held a politically charged funeral for a 700-year-old glacier called Okjökull.
Jökull is Icelandic for glacier, so that portion of Okjökull’s name has been removed, and what remains is now referred to as Ok. But Ok is not OK. What once was an ample, 15-square-mile chunk of frozen history is now a half mile speck of dust on your Google Maps.The glacier was technically declared inactive in 2014, meaning the ice was no longer moving.
For now, ice covers about 10% of Iceland, so severe losses lead not only to rises in sea level, but to changes in the country’s infrastructure and accessibility to water.
At the funeral in Borgarfjörður on Sunday, Icelandic geologist Oddur Sigurðsson presented a death certificate and a plaque was planted. The plaque read:
“Ok 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. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”
Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, joined a crowd of around 100 to mourn the loss.
Anthropologists from Rice University have created a video called “Not Ok.”