In 1992 when the world signed its first climate agreement, 25 mountains at the equator had glaciers. Now there are only 21 and these are vanishing rapidly because of the effects of climate change.
Documenting the loss of Kilimanjaro’s iconic glaciers is particularly important. As a household name, it brings the irreversible plight of equatorial glaciers to the forefront.
But the loss of Mount Kilimanjaro’s glaciers will do more than dent Kilimanjaro's status as a tourist attraction. There will be impacts for the surrounding communities who rely on the mountain's glaciers to release water during the dry season.
In countries like Ecuador in South America, the impacts are even more pronounced. Several major towns and cities rely on glacier run-off as a principal source of their water. The loss of glaciers means water shortages for millions of people.
Besides the impact for people and ecosystems that rely on the glaciers for their survival, the loss of the glaciers is a visual indicator of what we are doing to the planet.
It’s a sobering reminder of how human-induced climate change is real — that our activities can have consequences far from cities or sources of pollution, and that every individual, and business, should take responsibility to reduce their impact.