Comox Glacier is melting before our eyes

Photo assignment: start a time-lapse series this year

Comox Glacier

In a series of articles in print media and the Pacific Climate Institute for Climate Solutions, there are alarming predictions that the Comox Glacier will be melted in the next 25 years.

The articles go on to report how the number of glaciers on Vancouver Island was about 170 in the 1970s and it now stands at five, with the Comox Glacier being the largest.

The Comox Glacier is about a square kilometre in size and as glaciers go, that is tiny.

We are not alone in the loss of glaciers. In his book World Without Ice, Dr. Henry Pollack, an international climate scientist, reports that Glacier National Park in the United States will be without glaciers by 2030.

Added to the above was the disturbing news that six west Antarctic glaciers have passed the tipping point of melting in the next couple of centuries and will add a metre to rising waters in our oceans.

But the point of this column is the melting of the Comox Glacier. When you look west from the Comox Valley on a clear day you are impressed and thrilled by the beautiful scene of our Comox Glacier, startlingly visible on the mountains above Comox Lake. It is like a huge TV screen in the sky – a majestic symbol of our beautiful island.

The photograph with this column was taken in June of 2011 from the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Club grounds. It shows a significant amount of glacial ice in the foreground of the mountain.

It is hard to believe that it will all be melted in the coming 25 years.

With the prediction we have been given a wide-screen view of the greatest show on earth – climate change and global warming.

The glacier is also important to the K’omoks First Nation where it has been significant in their oral culture for centuries.

This summer, during the early part of August, I will take pictures of the glacier from the shoreline on the lake in front of the clubhouse. I pledge to do this every year in early August for the next 10 years, or until the glacier is no more. I challenge the residents of the Valley to accept a similar project of photographing the melting glacier. I believe the resulting pictures will produce a time-lapse record of the effects of changing climate and global warming as it melts the Comox Glacier.

You have been invited to partake in a 10-year open nature show with incredible implications for our future on Vancouver Island.

Our children and their children face a world of chaos from the implications of a world without ice.

If we change to a non carbon-dioxide-producing culture they also face a world of chaos in the resulting societal changes from burning fossil fuel to one of clean, renewable energy as in wind and solar power. However, the move to clean, renewable energy has a future.

My wife, Elaine, and I will both be 97 in 10 years with her small garden and my writing. We look forward to the challenge of the chaos of moving to a culture of clean energy.

Join us.

Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. He is a regular contributor to the Comox Valley Record sports section, as an outdoorsman columnist.