17 chilling photos of glaciers that could melt even the hardest politician's heart.

Did you know there are glaciers in South America?

There are, and they're beautiful! The Patagonian ice fields, located in the southern Patagonia Andes of Chile and Argentina, are the largest ice mass in the Southern Hemisphere with the exception of Antarctica, and the third largest freshwater reserve in the world.

While ice, snow, and glaciers might not be what comes to mind when you think of South America, near the southernmost part of the continent, that's exactly what you'll find.


All photos by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Photojournalist Mario Tama recently visited the ice field, capturing the beauty of the ice formations alongside the signs of the toll climate change has taken on the area.

The southern ice field is roughly five times the size of Rhode Island.

The southern ice field is made up of roughly 50 glaciers and runs across parts of Argentina and Chile.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

In 1937, Argentina established Los Glaciares National Park to preserve a vast region of Patagonia.

It's unique ecosystem combines things like waterfalls, rivers, forests, and, yes, glaciers.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

People walking across the Perito Moreno Glacier in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

UNESCO inscribed Los Glaciares National Park as a "World Heritage" in 1981.

UNESCO describes the park as "an area of exceptional natural beauty, with rugged, towering mountains and numerous glacial lakes."

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Glaciers sometimes look bluish in color because of light refraction.

Part of a glacier breaks off as the result of melting. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

The U.S. National Parks Service explains this phenomenon (and how you can experience it for yourself):

"Because the red (long wavelengths) part of white light is absorbed by ice and the blue (short wavelengths) light is transmitted and scattered. The longer the path light travels in ice, the more blue it appears. So... why is snow white? Light does not penetrate into snow very far before being scattered back to the viewer. However, the next time you are in an igloo, notice that it is blue inside. You can also poke a stick into some snow, shade the area around the hole, and look deep into the snow pack. The light that has traveled some distance through the snow will be enhanced in blue."

Between 2000 and 2012, these glaciers melted at a rate roughly 1.5 times faster than ever previously recorded.

Melting occurs throughout the glacier, and while it may not be completely uniform in pattern, recent studies suggest it's becoming more normalized throughout. Which means the whole glacier is starting to melt at roughly the same rate.

Melted glacial ice floats in Los Glaciares National Park. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

The rapidly melting glaciers are leading to rising sea levels.

Melting of glaciers and ice caps are the biggest contributors to rising sea levels around the world. As glaciers melt, the freshwater stored within gets dumped into surrounding bodies of water. If unchecked, this could pose disastrous consequences for people around the world.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

As is the case for other glaciers around the world, it's climate change that's driving the melt-off.

Glaciers and other ice structures are some of the most impressive natural storers of climate information. As glaciers have been around for a very long time, they've existed through warming and cooling periods. Recent data extracted from glaciers, however, shows that the modern melt-off is different from naturally occurring fluctuations.

This is Lake Argentino, which holds runoff water from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Horses run outside Los Glaciares National Park. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Some say it's too late to stop the melting, but that doesn't mean we should give up.

Dr. Ian Joughin of the University of Washington explained to the New York Times that climate change has destabilized glacier-covered areas, and without a stabilization mechanism, we'll continue to see glaciers melting.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Climate change is very real, and in addition to wiping glaciers from the earth, there are other dire consequences.

Rising sea levels may make some currently populated places totally uninhabitable. Additionally, due to climate change, the world can expect to see an increase in unseasonable and unpredictable storms, more droughts, and more heat waves.

But there are things we can (and should) do to help stop it. Like urging politicians to take action.

Over the next two weeks, 150 world leaders are meeting in Paris to discuss what we, as human beings, can do to preserve our planet and fight climate change. Some individuals don't believe we should take action, and some even doubt the reality of climate change (although 97% of the world's climate scientists assure humanity that yes, it is very real).

But meaningful change starts with letting our elected officials know that yes, this is an issue worth prioritizing for the sake of our world and generations to come.

So before the glaciers say their final "goodbye," let's do something about it!

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


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