Posted by: Martin Fox | June 21, 2008

The Center for Global Leadership Documents Receding Glaciers in Switzerland

Receding Swiss Glacier

Everywhere we went during the Center for Global Leadership’s journey in Switzerland, the message was the same – the glaciers were receding at an alarming rate. As you can see in the photo, the brown areas were recently the extent of the glacier. What you can’t see is 10 years ago, the glacier reached the other end of the lake – and the lake was several miles long. In summary, the glacier in the photo has receded more than two miles in the past 10 years and lost more than 1/2 mile in depth. And that, is a lot of ice.

During one evening in a remote mountain hut, European hut guests wanted to know why the USA didn’t take global warming seriously (not a pleasant conversation given the glacial melt we witnessed everywhere we went). Eventually, it required the intervention of our Swiss guide to explain the mission of the Center for Global Leadership and The Higher Road Initiative to convince the hut guests that there is great concern among many in the US as well.

I suspect much of their anger was driven by a fear that their way of life was going to change drastically if the glaciers disappear. The Swiss rely upon glaciers and snow for water, electricity, recreation, and their tourism-based economy.

This is a challenge for all of us. A challenge to work toward positive change – pretty cool mission.



  1. It is the melting of glacier and polar ice that is the primary cause of the delay in global warming. Every gram of ice at 0 C. that is converted to water at that same temperature must absorb 80 calories of heat. That heat comes from the atmosphere and ultimately from the sea as well. Ice which sublimes directly to water vapor absorbs 540 calories more per gram or 620 calories per gram. Sooner or later, and we don’t know when, the melting ice reserves will be insufficient to counter the global warming caused by the increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor and carbon dioxide, the two most significant greenhouse gases. When that “tipping point” is reached, global warming will increase rapidly followed by concommitant increases in sea level. I see nothing that can now alter this certain outcome. The only unkown is when.

    • Thank you for the terrific comment. We greatly appreciate your explanation of the science behind the issues – invaluable.

      • Thanks for the support. I am persona non grata at RealClimate blog. I have a whole thread dedicated to global warming on my website.

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