Local Issues with Global Connections


By Edgardo Le Blond (C15)

Published 11.6.12

Teaching glaciology next to Glaciar Nef. Photo by Ian Galbraith

Last week my Alpine of the Americas partner, Jonathan Byers, touched down in Santiago, Chile and made his way south to the tiny Gaucho town of Perto Bertrand to set-up base camp for the next five months. After two weeks, he’s already taught glaciology to high school students from Nido de Aguilas, an international school in Santiago, on the Northern Patagonia Ice Sheet. He’s helping them understand how their own homes are connected to these ice sheets, even though they are countless horizons away.

Yet we don’t have to travel across the world to see these changes. They are right here at home. Hurricane Sandy has been a huge lesson for the North East Coast. In these challenging times, it is rewarding to see is the humanity that arises when we are faced with a collective struggle.

The Earth’s changing climate is affecting us all but in many unique and unpredictable ways. Alpine of the Americas goal is to use simple, repeatable, and useful observations to help us tell the story of how our environments are changing. Few people read the scientific papers that tell us how the world is changing, so we strive to generate the content that stimulates conversations of how local communities must adapt to and mitigate climate change.

This ultimately requires are local, personal connections. It’s been six weeks since the Presidio Outdoor Club joined with Alpine of the Americas to repeat historic photos of Yosemite’s Dana Glacier, becoming the first beings to witness the Sierra Nevada’s changes from this unique perspective. This group became participants by capturing images that can tell the story of how our changing snowpack is affecting Californians today.

While these glaciers are an important legacy of past ice ages their value lies in how they are indicators of less water being stored in snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.  These mountains are the sole water source in the late summer for Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which provides 25% of the fresh drinking water for the City of San Francisco.  While these glaciers seem remote and disconnected from daily life, they are directly connected to the faucets that millions of people depend on every day. This week, the outcome of Proposition F will determine if the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will spend $8 million to determine the feasibility of removing this dam.

We honor our participants who create this story through photographs, who tell it to help others understand that the safety and security of our lives depend on how we relate to the world.

You can contact Edgardo at edgardo@alpineamericas.com

Edgardo Le Blond (C15)

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