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Half The Ice Mass Has Melted Away

Climate change robs Mt. Kenya of spectacular glaciers

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Dec 27, 2009

Those with long memories of how Mt. Kenya once stood tall and proud, the peaks covered by glittering glaciers, may have to think again today, when seeing the mountain either from the ground or from the air. Nearly half of the ice mass recorded a hundred years ago has since melted away altogether or is at the very brink of disappearing, while the remaining ice fields have shrunk considerably over the past decades.

Mountain guides have expressed their concerns to the Kenyan media, raising the alarm levels over the impact of climate change so inflicted on Africa by the massive carbon and other emissions of the industrialized world. The other ice caps in eastern Africa on Mt. Kilimanjaro and across the Rwenzori Mountains are also shrinking at a record pace, and it is feared that in a worst-case scenario, the glaciers could be gone anytime between the next 10 to 20 years.

Alongside those facts, communities depending on the mountains as a source of water for domestic use or irrigation - often the only source - are becoming more and more affected, as drawing water from equally-shrinking streams and rivers is becoming a daily struggle for them.

Thankfully good old Hemingway wrote his "Snow on Kilimanjaro" when that most famous of snow cover was still there and when the ice cap was still what it was supposed to be.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government defined the initial start-up cost to combat the fallout of climate change already visible at US$3 billion, which will eventually rise to US$20 billion, if the country is to adopt green technologies and repair the damages already done to forests and other ecosystems through extreme weather conditions.

Kenya, as the whole of Africa did, prepared for the Copenhagen Summit through widespread consultations with civil society organizations, green groups, environmentalists, and conservationists to come up with a country strategy, which will also be part of the regional strategy on climate change the East African Community as a whole is developing and will be presenting to the developed world with a bill attached to it.

Climate change robs Mt. Kenya of spectacular glaciers
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