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The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption is a work of investigative journalism by Dahr Jamail, conducted during the period April 2016 to July 2017 on the front lines of human-caused climate disruption. Having lived in Alaska for ten years (1996-2006), Jamail had witnessed the dramatic impact of global warming on the glaciers there.

Jamail’s original aim was to alert readers about “the urgency of our planetary crisis through firsthand accounts of what is happening to the glaciers, forest, wildlife, coral reefs, and oceans, alongside data provided by leading scientists who study them.” His reporting took him to climate disruption hot spots in Alaska, California, Florida, and Montana in the United States; Palau in the Western Pacific Ocean; Great Barrier Reef, Australia; and the Amazon Forest in Manaus, Brazil. His grief at what was happening to nature made him realize that “only by having this intimacy with the natural world can we fully understand how dramatically our actions are impacting it.”

Below are excerpts of assessments expressed to the author by scientists and other professionals working on the front lines.

Gulkana Glacier – Alaska – USA
Photo Credit: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

The magnitude of change in Alaska is easy to miss because Alaska is such a massive state, and largely undeveloped. That is why you’ve had no idea that Alaska’s glaciers are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice every year.
~ Dr. Mike Loso, a physical scientist with the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

[The rate of melting of Montana’s glaciers] is an explosion, a nuclear explosion of geologic change. This is unusual, it is incredibly rapid and exceeds the ability for normal adaption. We’ve shoved it into overdrive and taken our hands off the wheel.”
~ Dr. Dan Farge, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research ecologist and director of the Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems Project, Montana.

This last summer [2015], the Gulf [of Alaska] warmed up 15℃ [59℉] warmer than normal in some areas… And it is now, overall, 5℃ [41℉] above normal in both the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, and has been all winter long.
~ Bruce Wright, a senior scientist with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) and former section chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for eleven years.

St. Paul Island – Pribilof Islands – Bering Sea – Alaska
Photo Credit: St. Paul Island Tour

We hardly eat seals anymore, or the birds, and people now get food stamps and social handouts and welfare and shop at the store. When I grew up, we didn’t need any of that because we always had seals and birds and fish to eat. If the fur seals aren’t here, neither will we be.
~Jason Bourdukofsky Sr., the president of TDX, Alaska’s native corporation on St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea.

Bleached Coral – Great Barrier Reef – Australia
Photo Credit: Great Barrier Reef Legacy

The warming [of the oceans] we’re seeing now is happening far too fast to allow for [coral] evolution…. So what we’re seeing now is death. That’s what [coral] bleaching is…. Right now the largest ecosystem on Earth is undergoing its death throes and no one is there to watch it.
~ Dr. Dean Miller, a marine scientist and director of science and media for Great Barrier Reef Legacy, Australia.

Even if your home [in South Florida] may be elevated, all the infrastructure and freshwater and sewage treatment and getting rid of the sewage…all of this infrastructure is critically vulnerable to sea level rise.
~ Dr. Ben Kirtman, one of the leading sea level experts in the world and program director for the Climate and Environmental Hazards program at the University of Miami’s Center for Computational Science.

Sea level rise is going to accelerate faster than the models, and it’s not going to stop. So the government [of the State of Florida] has to have a plan that includes buyouts. It’s cheaper to buy this area [Coral Gables] out than it is to maintain the infrastructure.
~ Dr. Harold Wanless, professor and chair of the Department of Geological Science, University of Miami, Coral Gables campus.

Sea Level Rise – Matheson Hammock Park – Coral Gables – Florida (2016)
Photo Credit: Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSUSA)

You know what the burden is? It’s looking up through the political hierarchy above me to the state legislature, to the governor, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, the White House, and you ask, Who is minding the shop? Who else knows what I know?… What kind of morality allows them to ignore what is going to happen?
~ Dr. Philip Stoddard, mayor of South Miami and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University.

We need to educate people about what is really going on with climate disruption…. I made a personal decision to not have kids, because I don’t have a future to offer them. I don’t think we are going to win this battle. I think we are really done.
~ Dr. Rita Mesquita, a biologist and researcher with Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA), Manaus, Amazonas.

The dire position we’re in now is solid evidence of the fact that the predominant civilization does not have a handle on all the interrelationships between humans and what we call the natural world. If it did, we wouldn’t be facing this dire situation.
~ Stan Rushworth, elder of Cherokee descent who has taught Native American literature and critical thinking classes focused on Indigenous perspectives.

Jamail concludes that we are already facing mass extinction. We can’t remove the heat now stored in the oceans, yet we keep on pumping 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Our future is uncertain. Writing this book was his attempt to bear witness to what we have done to the Earth. “I am committed in my bones to being with the Earth,” he writes, “no matter what, to the end.”

DAHR JAMAIL

Dahr Jamail, a reporter for Truthout, is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Disintegration of a Nation (co-authored with William Rivers Pitt). Over the past fifteen years, Jamail has also reported from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. An accomplished mountaineer who has worked as a volunteer rescue ranger on Denali, Alaska, he won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism and is a 2018 winner of the Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism. Jamail is also the recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and five Project Censored Awards. 
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