The Last Glaciers: New Film Issues Powerful Call for Climate Action on World Water Day
MRI News
article written by MRI
22.03.22 | 03:03

One of the most comprehensive documentaries ever produced about the relationship between climate change, mountain environments, and glaciers, The Last Glaciers shines a light on the rapid depletion of the world’s water towers as a result of climate change. The Mountain Research Initiative is proud to be a science partner in support of this important film.  

Released on World Water Day (22 March) and to be screened in IMAX cinemas worldwide, the highly anticipated documentary The Last Glaciers follows award-winning filmmaker Craig Leeson and United Nations Mountain Hero & Entrepreneur Malcolm Wood over the course of four years as they journey to the planet’s remaining glaciers to explore the causes and effects of climate change in mountains – the location of our planet’s vital, and vanishing, water reservoirs.

“The pace of change is incredibly fast already, within a generation. And it’s still accelerating.” – Dr. Carolina Adler, Executive Director, Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) & IPCC Lead Author

From Antarctica to the Himalayas, the Alps, and the Andes, The Last Glaciers is a global call to action to protect and restore mountain ecosystems. The film gives voice to leading scientists and impacted communities as they highlight and reflect on the imminent dangers humanity faces if it fails to protect what is left of these critical natural water resources. 

According to the latest IPCC report Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, which includes a Cross-Chapter Paper on Mountains for which MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler served as co-lead, global warming of 1.1°C has already caused widespread disruption in nature, and affected the lives of billions of people, despite efforts to adapt.

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Pictured: Dave Turner, Craig Leeson, and Malcolm Wood navigate a disappearing glacier in The Last Glaciers. Photo Credit: The Last Glaciers.

In mountain regions specifically, risks are expected to further increase over the course of this century, with accelerated climate change negatively affecting biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being. Many mountain regions have already witnessed radical glacier loss, with many low elevation and small glaciers around the world – including all of Africa’s remaining glaciers – at risk of disappearing within this century

The melting and drastic retreat of glaciers also has severe effects on the environment and people further afield. Glacial melt leads to reduced water supplies for towns and especially for farmers, as less water is available during the dry season. The livelihoods of millions of people in Peru, including in its capital, Lima, are at risk as a result of Andean glacier melt due to the decreased availability of clean water, for example. Glacial lake outburst floods also pose a growing hazard for those living downstream.

Combined with the drastic ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica, glacial melt in mountains around the world also contributes to rising sea levels. The latest IPCC report estimates that, by the end of this century, the average sea level could be one meter higher than in pre-industrial times, posing a particular threat to small islands and low-lying coastal areas.  

The Last Glaciers is therefore a timely call for climate action, highlighting the fragility of the natural world and the impact humans are having on the planet’s essential life support systems.

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The Mountain Research Initiative is proud to be a science partner in support of this important film. More information about The Last Glaciers, including how you can watch it, can be found on The Last Glaciers website. 


Cover image: Filmmakers Craig Leeson and Malcolm Wood in The Last Glaciers. Photo credit: The Last Glaciers.