It’s been a bit more than 10 years now since the release of the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” in which Al Gore warned that “within the decade there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro” as a result of man-caused global warming. As with many of Mr. Gore’s warnings, that was a convenient fiction.
Kilimanjaro’s current glaciers began forming almost 12 thousand years ago as the last glacial period ended and the climate of equatorial Africa became wetter and warmer. The ice fields have expanded and receded many times since then, and began their current recession in the mid-1800’s, at the end of the Little Ice Age. They have receded more than 85% since their extent was first measured in 1912. However, Kilimanjaro can still receive more than 4 feet of seasonal snowfall, and the remaining ice cap is still as much as 170 feet thick.
The air temperature at 19,000 feet does not rise above freezing. The snow and ice rarely melt, they evaporate due to low relative humidity for which man-caused global warming is not the primary cause. In the mid 1800s, a change in the trade winds reduced snowfall. As population increased, cutting of forests around the mountain’s base reduced humidity and rainfall. Reforestation is apparently increasing precipitation, but it may take a change in the trade winds to reverse the loss of ice at the summit. If and when that might occur is unknown.
Al Gore’s “expert” source for his warning was paleoclimatologist Dr. Lonnie Thompson. Dr. Thompson gained fame and fortune through scientific research suggesting man-made climate change is a global crisis, garnering more than $10 million in government grants and a shelf full of environmental awards from his prodigious efforts. No matter if his predictions don’t pan out so long as the initial media coverage is alarming.
While climate crisis promoters profit from their alarming prognostications, volunteers have been busy planting trees around Kilimanjaro. It’s not clear their efforts can succeed long term. Population in the area has more than tripled in the last 50 years, and most of it relies on firewood and charcoal for cooking and heating. But if deforestation isn’t reversed, the population faces an unpleasant future as farmland erodes and water supplies dry up.
Once he’d attributed Kilimanjaro’s ice loss to anthropogenic global warming, Dr. Thompson moved on. However, his research partner, Douglas Hardy, is still working on the mountain and reporting online at http://kiboice.blogspot.com/.
For those who want to contribute to the reforestation effort, I found only two groups that are actually claiming results, and both are Christian outreach programs. Plant With Purpose, a non-profit with a good review from Charity Navigator, does reforestation and ecological education in Haiti, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Burundi, and Tanzania. Their website is at https://www.plantwithpurpose.org/.
Trees 4 Kilimanjaro, unrated, claims planting of 75,000 trees. Their website is at http://www.trees4kili.org/.
Neither reference constitutes an endorsement.