Advertisement

UNESCO: Glaciers, a critical water source for humanity, are disappearing

Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, United States. A UNESCO report Wednesday said a third of the world's glaciers -- including Yosemite's -- will disappear by 2050 due to global warming caused by CO2 emissions. Glaciers are a critical water source for humanity and are also important for ecosystem biodiversity. Photo by Juan Arreguin/Wikimedia Creative Commons
Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, United States. A UNESCO report Wednesday said a third of the world's glaciers -- including Yosemite's -- will disappear by 2050 due to global warming caused by CO2 emissions. Glaciers are a critical water source for humanity and are also important for ecosystem biodiversity. Photo by Juan Arreguin/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The world's glaciers are disappearing at an accelerated rate and some iconic glaciers like those in Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks in the United States will be gone by 2050, according to a Wednesday report from the UNESCO.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization report said that quickly and effectively cutting CO2 emissions could save most of the glaciers if global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.

Advertisement

"This report is a call to action. Only a rapid reduction in our CO2 emissions levels can save glaciers and the exceptional biodiversity that depends on them," UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement. "COP27 will have a crucial role to help find solutions to this issue. UNESCO is determined to support states in pursuing this goal."

UNESCO's report, in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, concludes that a third of glaciers at 50 World Heritage sites "are condemned to disappear by 2050, regardless of efforts to limit temperature increases."

The glaciers have been melting at an accelerated rate since 2000 due to CO2 emissions, losing 58 billion tons of ice every year, according to the report. That loss is equivalent to the annual water use of France and Spain combined.

Advertisement

UNESCO says half of humanity depends directly or indirectly on glaciers as their water source for agriculture, power and domestic use. Glaciers are also important for ecosystem biodiversity.

"When glaciers melt rapidly, millions of people face water scarcity and the increased risk of natural disasters such as flooding, and millions more may be displaced by the resulting rise in sea levels," International Union for Conservation of Nature Director General Dr. Bruno Oberle said in a statement. "This study highlights the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in nature-based solutions, which can help mitigate climate change and allow people to better adapt to its impacts."

Latest Headlines