Peter Davies Photography
Paddling into the Pedersen Glacier lagoon in a sea kayak on a warm July evening in the summer of 2015 is a magical experience. Low angle, evening sunlight passes over and through small icebergs from the calving Pedersen Glacier. Light traveling through the ice takes on a bright blue cast. Air bubbles in clear glacial ice refract the sunlight into bright sparkles, air that is hundreds of years old. A harbor seal lying in the shade of an ice overhang peers out at us, with melt water dripping behind.
The time scale of geologic processes is so long that we humans rarely experience the changing earth. Over the past hundred years, as the earth has warmed, temperatures have risen in Arctic regions twice as fast as the rest of our planet. As a result of this warming, mountain glaciers are melting faster then they receive new snow and ice, and they are rapidly disappearing. Over the past one hundred years, the Pedersen Glacier has receded almost a mile, and in the not too distant future will no longer reach water’s edge.
About two years ago, my first grandchild, Ella, was born at a time when I was also working through major life transitions with my father. During Ella’s earliest days, I thought a lot about time and came to realize that when Ella reaches my father’s age, the year will be 2106. What will our world be like for her in 2106? How much warmer will the earth be? What changes will have occurred? What will her life be like?