(NEW YORK) — Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe, located in the Alps between Italy and France, has become a symbol of climate change as its glaciers continue to rapidly melt in response to the warming of the Earth.
As the ice melts and falls, it creates a dangerous hazard for both locals and the millions of tourists who visit the site annually while also drying up fresh water supplies, said Fabrizio Troilo, a geologist for the Safe Mountain Foundation, an Italian-based organization.
One glacier in particular is posing a particular threat, Troilo told ABC News. A portion of Planpincieux Glacier, on the Italian side of the mountain, is moving up to a meter per day, compared to a more normal movement of 10 centimeters per day.
The melting ice is a signifier of climate change, causing scientists to be on full alert, Troilo said.
The Safe Mountain Foundation and the Valle d’Aosta regional government stated in an analysis released last month that the glacier could collapse at any moment, releasing 66 million gallons worth of ice.
“What we are seeing today is the rate of change, which is very very high, and this doesn’t give us time to adapt,” Troilo said. “Every season we see new spots where there could be new risk.”
If the warming trend continues, future scenarios predict that the majority of glaciers will be gone by the year 2100, Troilo said.
While local governments in the area are paying attention to the issue of climate change, Troilo said the issue needs to be addressed on a more global scale.
The United Nations held a climate summit at last month’s General Assembly, which Rachel Kyte, the U.N.’s special representative for sustainable energy for all, said she hoped would be a “slingshot” toward global action.
One thing standing in the way of action on climate change has been President Donald Trump, who removed the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017, and mocked 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter last month.
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