Not Quite The Analogy We Wanted

Kurt Vonnegut and Seeming Futility

My rapidly accelerating senility means that I have to catch up on reading I should have done when I was younger. So I just started Kurt Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse Five. And right at the beginning, this exchange jumped out at me. The protagonist tells a big Hollywood producer that he is thinking about writing a book about the infamous Dresden firebombing in 1945:

“Will it be an anti-war book?,” he asked.

“I guess,” I said.

“Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead?”

What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that too.”

And that’s pretty chilling (so to speak), because

Montana’s Glacier National Park is quickly losing an important part of its natural beauty: Its glaciers.

U.S. Geological Survey data released Wednesday shows the park’s 37 glaciers, along with two others on federal Forest Service land, have shrunk an average of about 40% since 1966.

In fact, they’ll all be gone within our lifetime, warns Daniel Fagre, a research ecologist with the USGS’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center. In order for the glaciers to survive, the area would need to experience “significant cooling,” he said.

But it’s likely too late. “Their fate is sealed,” forecasted Fagre, who has studied the glaciers since 1991.

Somehow humanity has managed to destroy glaciers before it has destroyed wars (although we are making some progress on the latter, at least for now). It’s not exactly what we were looking for.

Glacier National Park: See It Before It Is Gone

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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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