In late August I came upon an article which stated that on August 18th 2019, there was a ceremony, more accurately called a funeral, which marked the official passing the Okjökull glacier in Iceland. This glacier measured 38 square kilometers in 1901 and by 2014 it lost it’s glacier status.
The funeral was attended by researchers, Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. They installed a plaque with the following inscription:
"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."
I was 23 when I read the article and while I have been aware of Climate change from a very young age, as well as heard about it in many different mediums, this article affected me much more than usual. It brought images of corrupt dystopian societies to mind. I started to think more about the roll of politics in the climate crisis, how there was a huge divide in the world right now when it came to climate change and people’s opinions about it. I also started thinking about how class and geography also plays a roll in the entire situation.
I immediately opened a document and wrote a fictionalized rendition of how I imagined the death of the last glacier to be. A death in our not so far future if we continue to act the way we are acting.
"We are gathered today to send our farewells to the last glacier..." says the weathered man in ragged clothes.
“This Glacier was more than just a symbol of an old way of life, it was...” he continues.
"Ok, we get it, can we take pictures and go now?” Interjects a woman dressed to the nines as she loudly chews a piece of gum. "I want to get back to our dome community the weather is atrocious out here!" she complains.
“This is a monumental day which should be given the upmost importance and respect...” The weathered man starts to say.
"I think we gave it all the respect it deserved” a man wearing the latest fashion says as he once again interrupts the man at the front of the crowd. He takes a bite out of his chocolate bar, the shiny metallic wrapping glinting in the sweltering sun, before continuing.
“We don’t need to give it anymore of our time, I say good riddance to it, out high tech domes are much more comfier and we can control the weather within them. Mankind now controls nature, it’s the always it was always meant to be. Our domes have shown we don’t need nature to survive” He takes another bite of his candy bar and then passes the empty rapper to his wife.
“Sir, no one can control nature!” Starts a woman, equally weathered in appearance her cheeks hollow and her face gaunt.
“Than why is it a pleasant spring day back in our dome when its like a sauna out here?” says the woman who was first to interrupt. “I think that more than proves we can” she continues a self satisfied smirk perking her lips upward as she fans herself with meticulously filled and manicured nails.
"What about us?” Says a man on the sidelines of the well dressed and polished onlookers. “We have nowhere to go. We can't afford the dome community! We are running out of resources and the weather is getting more unpredictable by the day!"
"Well sucks to be you,” says the mans wife candy wrapper in hand. The other hand clutching a purse. “you should have taken better care of your land." she says as she throws the candy bar wrapper into the grave of our sins. "You messed up" she states without mercy. She grabs her husband by the arm, and goes to look closer at the once majestic glacier, now nothing more but a small shield volcano. As the well dressed and polished crowd follows suite phones and cameras in hand.
The weathered man in ragged clothes watches them walk away, not in anger but in sadness. "We all messed up kid,” he says even though no one can hear him anymore. A group of equally downtrodden and broken people start to amass behind him he looks back at them and thento the crowd in front of him and whispers brokenly “we all did."
As two groups of the same species stand at a divide, the gap between never having been breached. The weathered man looks around him one last time, he looks at the world and nature we need in order to survive, a trash land around him, and the grave of the last good thing which showed we had a chance, then he turns and walks away, growing the gap which will never be mended.
100 years later the dome dwellers polluted all their domes to the point of no repair, when they came out to find more resources they realized there was nothing but barren land left.
A couple dome dwellers walked to the site where the last glacier was located. Something which was nothing but stories passed from the previous generations. As they walked they passed no signs of life. When they got to the glacier site they found nothing but a rudimentary built plaque to let them know they were at the right place. It read:
This monument is to acknowledge that we knew what was happening and what needed to be done. This monument shows that we failed, that we did not succeed and that greed and consumerism overcame us.
Will our planet prosper once more?
There will be none of us left to know if it did.
The dome dwellers fell to their knees one by one as they finished reading the plaque. A sullen silence the only thing left to say.
One of them buried him hands in the dry sand in front of him. As he fists his hands in the dry sand, consumed by dark emotions he feels something between his fingers.
He slowly pulls his hands out and examines the object. As he straightens it out he sees it’s a chocolate bar wrapper, man made about 100 years ago with the latest of foil replacements, the same foil used for the last 90 years.
He looks at the candy wrapper weathered but still in one piece, than at his shoes, backpack and pants made of the same material and thinks, these things will be the only legacy humans will leave.
The end, but this story is not the way it has to go...