Still Learning To See


This communication, with only a few words and photographs, is completely inadequate to the task of sharing what I’ve been seeing. More will unfold with time and patience.

The toe of the Exit Glacier is visible in the lower right. It has been documented to have retreated nearly a half mile—from the edge of the gray moraine area near the green vegetation—since I was born.

Among the highlights of today was visiting the toe of the Exit Glacier and experiencing first hand the impact of climate change. Several small signs on the way to the glacier mark the dates of where the edge of the ice had been previously. Since my birth,  as an incomprehensibly immense volume of ice has melted, it has retreated nearly a half mile. I found it impossible to walk back down and not feel profoundly affected by the experience.

Standing at the toe of the Exit Glacier with Rob and Bill, thinking about how far past 350ppm CO2 we’ve driven our planet. While I’m smiling in this photograph, I found it difficult to not weep on the way back down.

Later we looked across the Cook Inlet to see Mount Redoubt clear of clouds in gorgeous late afternoon sunlight. I could see steam coming from the north flank. Three more  nearby, recently active volcanoes (Augustine, Iliamna and Spurr) have also each been visible over the past several days. My imagination is stretched far beyond my small backyard in Vermont by these sightings!

Mount Redoubt at sunset showing a small plume of steam coming from the caldera on the north face.

This entry was published on July 17, 2012 at 3:35 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Immensity

  1. Julia on said:

    John, the minute I read this entry I thought of this quotation from Timothy Ferris, author of THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE:

    “What is there about the human mind that so resonates with the rest of the universe that we’re able to understand anything about workings of nature on the larger scale? Every scrap of matter and energy in our blood and bones and in the synapses of our thoughts can trace its lineage back to the origin of the universe…. As the Koran puts it, the universe is as close as the veins of our necks. The evolution of the universe goes on not just around us but within us. Our thoughts and feelings, after all, are part of the universe, too, and its story is our story as well.”

    So tears are appropriate–as we lose the glaciers, we lose ourselves as well, and our role to be (as Stephen Jay Gould once said) “the universe aware of itself.”

    Thanks for sharing this awe-full journey with us.

  2. kspring on said:

    Beautiful post, John! Thanks for continuously sharing. I’m excited to hear more about it and see more pictures when you are back in VT!

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