Reflections on the Mission

Driestgletscher image

Driestgletscher, showing that it is substantially melted already. The clock is ticking…..

While strategic plans, organization missions, and the like are partially on the site already and will invariably be added to as time goes by, there is something pure about stating the general idea behind the Global Glacier Initiative, in fairly direct prose, while things are very early. 

One of the biggest things going on in my mind is the idea of “getting them before they are gone.” That does not necessarily leave much room for thinking of anything else, as there isn’t anything else to think of. The clock is ticking, as I write this, as glaciers march to their demise. Some will disappear even this coming summer, while others will shrink significantly in the coming years and decades. There really is no time to waste.

I hate to be cynical: I think we as a human race will fail at achieving carbon zero in adequate time to halt the recession of glaciers. If that pessimistic presumption turns out to be true, then we will have wished that someone started a project like this years before. I suppose the worst-case scenario, from an organizational utility standpoint, is that the glaciers are documented and yet they are somehow saved, which means that some of the effort will have been in vain.

But will it have been?

If the Global Glacier Initiative’s efforts in any way contribute to the process by which the glaciers are saved, then nothing was wasted. If they happen to halt their decline, then a global treasure is being shared with the human race, one that, in those hypothetical circumstances, would continue to be available to all. The reality would still remain that glaciers are either located very high up or very close to the poles, which means that they are almost never easy to get to. The bulk of humanity will either see a glacier in person once or not at all, so this mission is important no matter what happens.

My view is that the images collected now will have some use in the immediate term. Once the glaciers are gone, even if that is at a time after I am no longer alive, then the images taken will have increased in significance greatly. I have a view that far into the future. I am thinking of generations that have not yet been born when I contemplate taking these photographs.

That is part of the reason for a nonprofit model. An author model is a profit model, which means that the author is beholden to the marketplace. Markets are notoriously concerned with the present, which means that when one factors long-term elements for the good of humanity as a whole, markets lag until well past the point where it is too late. It is simply impossible to think of future generations on a profit model, when profit must chase what people are currently paying attention to.

The second component to a nonprofit model has to do with the catch-22 that I mentioned in the last post. Print media has a way of formalizing the content at hand, at the expense of reach. Social media is instant and to some extent free, yet it is forgotten. One solution is to put the images in the hands of the people and organizations that can use them to further the mission of the Global Glacier Initiative, which is to increase glacier and climate change awareness. Thus, the images will be licensed to science, education, other nonprofits, and to climate outreach programs. If the glaciers are effectively owned by humanity, then their beauty should reach as many as possible.