Environment Forum

Holy water!

August 7, 2009

Aletsch glacier, the largest glacier in the Swiss Alps is seen on August 18, 2007. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Are the residents of Fiesch and Fischertal in Switzerland particularly pious, desperate or both? I wonder after learning that villagers there want Pope Benedict’s blessing to stop the melting of Europe’s longest glacier. That, after hundreds of years of praying for it to stop growing. Researchers predict winter temperatures in the Swiss Alps will rise by 1.8 degrees Celsius in winter and 2.7 degrees Celsius in the summer by 2050.

You can track the fate of the Aletsch glacier here, but don’t expect to see a repeat of Spencer Tunick’s 2007 naked photoshoot.

Undoubtedly, Switzerland’s tourism industry has suffered this summer, with 148,000 fewer foreign visitors bunking at chalets and the like in June compared to the same month last year. Of course it’s not clear if the decline was due to melting glaciers or the credit crisis.

Back in the United States, melting glaciers aren’t a big source of concern.

A task force from the American Psychological Association, citing a Pew Research Center poll that found that climate change ranked last in a list of 20 compelling issues, concluded that psychological barriers like uncertainty, mistrust and denial were to blame. It added that habits can change, especially if money is involved.

Supposing you agree with the APA that green habits are important to develop, what ones would you consider most essential and practical, or even spiritual?

(PHOTO: Aletsch glacier, the largest glacier in the Swiss Alps is seen on August 18, 2007. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth)

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