“Ice is nice and good for you, Snow makes Glaciers grow.”

Those are the words my dissertation advisor, Carl Benson, used to have us all sing, at the Geophysical Institute Christmas party. We’d sing it in a Salvation Army Band sort of way, to “Onward Christian Soldiers” He generally had a wonderful comic talk to go with it, and to this day if you get a group of old GI folks together and start the song, they will join in. I used to play the trombone with the group — the only playing I’d done for at least 25 years, which may give you an idea of our musical quality (or lack thereof.).

But I wasn’t satisfied. The words were too simple, I kept saying, and I finally wrote a set of my own. Pretty soon I found myself expected to write a new verse every year. The tune stayed the same, and the theme – the glaciers’ point of view on climate change – but I generally tried to incorporate something tied to the year in question.

I missed some years, and lost what I wrote for others. But imagine yourself a glacier, and sing.

1984
Onward grind the glaciers, surging o’er the land.
Ice sheets dream of ice falls where the cities stand.
Though we’re now divided, we’ll together flow
Bringing snow and permafrost and raising albedo,
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1985
Oranges freeze in Florida, Phoenix reels in snow.
All the world is wond’ring where we next will go.
Shall we sink a tanker (Columbia Glacier, solo)
Surge, and raise the sea? (West Antarctic Ice Sheet, solo)
Wrap the world from pole to pole in icy purity? (all)
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1986
See the mighty Hubbard thrust into the sea,
Trapping seals and dolphins, what Fools these mortals be!
Though the rise of Russell Lake swept away their pen,
Wait til next year and the Hubbard will be back again!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1987
Arctic haze and CO2, Men dispute our sway.
We have plans against them.  See how, far away.
High above Antarctica crystals fill the air,
Helping chlorine take away the Ozone layer there,
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1990
Can the clouds replace us in our feedback role?
Silly bits of vapor climate can’t control.
They don’t even know their sign!  Now that’s just not nice.
We are large and positive.  Let’s hear a cheer for ice!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1991
Glaciers love a cloudy day, with sulfate drifting high
Pinatubo thrilled us, blasting at the sky.
Aerosols are scatt’ring light. Greenhouse, go away!
We’ll spread out, increase albedo, dig in here to stay.
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1992
Once men thought that winter cold helped to make us grow.
We’ll take any winter, give us summer snow!
Snow in lowlands into May, white Septembers too,
Help us glaciers grow until we surge all over you!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1994
See the Bering Glacier surging on its way,
Scribing loops and swirlings, geo-art we’d say.
Glaciers all are artists, modeling the land,
Mountains would be boring things, without our helping hand.
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1995
Did you think you understood glaciers’ surging play?
Variegated caught you by surprise, I’d say
Surges’ periodicity varies as we please.
Dam the rivers! Cut the pipeline!  Topple stately trees!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1996
Blizzards rage across the plains, Floods strike the Northwest
When it comes to weather, glaciers do it best.
Now that ENSO’s gone away we can do our thing.
Chill Alaska AND the East Coast: see what NEXT year brings!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1997
Once again El Nino blocks our destiny.
Land that once was our land ours again will be.
You can slow us with the breath of you fossil fuels.
If you think you’ve truly stopped us, you are then the fools.
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1998
We are paranoid you think, shrinking back in fear?
Look at what the weather’s handed us this year!
Hardly any snow this spring, little more in fall,
Rain to melt us in the summer.   Strike back, glaciers all!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

1999
See the Himalayas rise far into the sky,
We will help erode them where the winds blow by,
Sucking carbon from the air, sending it to sea,
Kill the greenhouse, bring the ice house, let the glaciers be!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2000
Once the world was covered up pole to pole with snow
Naught you’d see but whiteness, anywhere you’d go.
Glaciers fattened on the land, sea ice ruled the sea.
What an error when the Cambrian let complex life be!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2001
Have a little pity for glaciers we pray
Slowly we are melting, trickling away
You are slowly killing us with your carbon breath.
We will raise the seas in vengeance, even in our death!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2002
Once again El Nino comes to dispute our sway,
Rain clouds in Alaska, Storm clouds in L.A.
Evil forces stand against those of ice and snow.
If you let the warming triumph where will glaciers go?
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2003
Sea ice pulls back toward the poles, ice shelves break away.
Heat and drought and wildfires blossom day by day
Men are in denial.  Glaciers still advise:
If we melt we’ll take you with us as the oceans rise!
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2004
Summers ever warmer grow, smoke clouds fill the sky,
Shielding us, but not enough, from the sun’s white eye.
“Join with those you can’t defeat.”  Shall we take that way?
Melt into the global ocean, wash mankind away?
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

2005
Would you really rather have hurricanes than ice?
Just keep right on playing with those carbon dice.
Warmer waters give the storms greater energy,
You may bind us, but you’ve set the swirling storm clouds free.
Onward yet the glaciers
Surge with pond’rous tread,
With the fimbulwinter
Going on ahead.

Maybe I’ll try to write a new verse this year.

Advertisements