How to Save the World, Advance Spiritually through Mindfulness, and Become a MultiMillionaire in a Few Quick Years

Photo of sea otters holding hands while sleeping taken by Joe Robertson from Austin, TX, USA CC by 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Apart from polar bears and sea lions, and maybe those with oversized oceanfront mansions, who can, let’s face it, recoup any losses through insurance and let taxpayers pick up the tab for the debris they leave behind, who really cares that the glaciers are melting? Please understand me. Although I’m not fond of the idea that someone can obstruct my access to the ocean just because they have the money, I’m not jealous of these waterfront owners. The ocean doesn’t do it for me like it did when I was a kid. The coastline is always littered with plastic bottles, diapers, q-tips, in short, a lot of unsavory stuff. The acid waters have way too many jellyfish to enjoy swimming in them anymore. I’d rather watch Blue Planet. Or listen to a meditation tape of crashing waves while reading one of Rachel Carson’s wonderful books about the sea or maybe a book on bird migration. As I snuggle under blankets in a comfy chair, I don’t worry about sharks circling me. And even when I look back on my recent snorkeling excursion, although I bragged about it at the time, the truth is, it was depressing. Twenty of us rode forty minutes out in a boat and circled a small area of mostly bleached coral. It was so small we kept bumping into each other. I saw more colorful fish in a ten-gallon tank at the local pet store.

As for the impact of melting glaciers on polar bears and sea lions, the fact is I’ve only ever seen them living out unhappy and rarefied lives in a zoo and don’t really connect with them emotionally. I do smile at those clips of the sea otters holding hands, so they don’t drift away from each other while they’re sleeping, but I certainly don’t want to risk coming across that clip again of the sea lion being pushed off the crowded rock in the Arctic. Learning any more about polar bears and those sea lions that are also integral to the ocean’s health becoming extinct, well, I don’t know about you, but more than two paragraphs of an environmental article is simply not good for my headspace. The problems are just too big. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m making a meaningful impact reducing carbon emissions by keeping my phone charger unplugged to prohibit phantom electricity flowing.

This article will touch primarily on one problem: the fact that when the glaciers and snow caps disappear, we will no longer have them as source of water. It will be interspersed with brilliant philosophical observations you have thought but not brought to the light of day and you will see how they fit cohesively into a solution. This is the mindfulness and how-to-make-money-fast part. While you might feel tinges of despair creeping in between off-color humor, the article will conclude with a way for you personally to capitalize on saving the planet, beginning today.

Yes, melting glaciers mean rising sea levels. Who cares? Well, presently, around 11% of the world’s population currently lives on land less than 10m above sea level, so it matters to them. Or will. This number is projected to reach one billion by 2050. They will most certainly be affected by rising sea levels from the rapidly melting ice.[1]About 2.4 billion people, one-third of the human population, lives within 100 km (60 miles) from the coastline.[2] This embraces a number of large cities. It will not only be rising waters that displace these populations, but more frequent hurricanes and tsunamis from global warming. Good times ahead for these folks.


And of course, the animals who live in cold places and still have white fur in what was once late winter to camouflage them from predators. Not so good for them when they think they are invisible, but the snow has all melted, and they are not. Hello, snow hare – I see you! Good-bye, snow hare! Evolutionary adaptation takes place at a much slower pace than the snow is melting.


But let’s focus for the moment on a different aspect of melting ice: what it will mean to our water supply. Scientists call water locked in ice Earth’s cryosphere. This includes snow cover, glaciers, ice sheets, ice shelves, icebergs, sea ice, lake ice, river ice, permafrost, and seasonally frozen ground. Water locked in ice is about 75% of the world’s freshwater.[3] When it melts seasonally, it fills our rivers.


While your primary concern over melting glaciers and snow may be the impact on skiing or snowboarding, the stakes are actually a bit higher. Human survival may well depend on the glaciers. Water from the seasonal thawing snow from glaciers is presently the source of water for a significant number of people all around the globe.  The 2022 International Panel on Climate Change report referenced in footnote 1 includes an appendix of six fact sheets illustrating predicted impacts around the world. Check them out for a snapshot of how likely water scarcity will impact your homeland once the glaciers have melted permanently. Make no mistake; they are quickly melting, and this is not a reversible scenario. First there will be flooding as water volume and flow in rivers like the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra swell with melting water, triggering flooding in the lower plains affecting a billion people, directly or indirectly.[4] And please don’t be lulled into complacency by climate change naysayers who may point out an isolated fact like, though Asia will be hard hit when the Amu Darya, presently providing water to 43 million people[5], the Indus[6] and the  Ganges[7] no longer provide water, there are many non-glacial spring-fed rivers in the Himalayas that provide water too and will save the day. Dig a little deeper. There are, but spring-fed rivers and aquifers there and worldwide are also suffering from timbering, damming and other destructive operations. It may well be that soon our primary source of drinkable water will be rainfall. It is possible that rainfall will take the place of snowfall and fill up lake basins, providing a new source of water. We can’t predict. Rain does not necessarily fall at a steady, manageable pace. Rains can be torrential, as is becoming more frequent as the planet heats up, and drinkable water may all be lost in the gross contamination of major flooding. Or the rain may follow an extended drought, another phenomenon we are seeing more frequently as the planet warms, and then fall so sparsely that it is taken up quickly by thirsty foliage along the banks of dry riverbeds.

When it comes to precipitation and climate change modeling, before criticizing the potential for inaccuracies, take a step back and consider the situation we are in. We can only conjecture what will happen when melting glaciers raise sea levels and water temperatures and acidify the ocean and no longer provide water to rivers, based on what we know of biological evolution and earth’s cycles. Dare we take it a step further and deliver a prognosis for the next two generations? Even if we can come up with feasible solutions to slow climate change in the interest of saving the planet, is it reasonable to believe that political or social change will favor the majority over those more interested in power and money than the fate of the planet? Is it reasonable given the limited intellectual capacities of the majority of the human population to believe that suddenly everyone will “get it” that the planet is in serious trouble and jump on the problem? It hasn’t happened yet, and we have arguably passed the tipping point. Or is this despair simply manufactured and spread through social media and advertising manipulation by those in power benefitting from the status quo?

The bottom line is that we will most likely be dealing with this crisis as it unfolds, unless of course you pick up the gauntlet now and belt out the praises of the sustainable development goals to the whole world. But if your ideas do not go viral and attract investors because the world is focusing on cute cat videos instead, do remember that it is not human nature to give up and die. The US has twelve aircraft carriers. Will that be enough to stave off climate refugees from Africa and Asia? Will it help that the entire world knows everyone in America has a cache of guns? Is this the world our grandchildren will be living in?

Let’s get back to the facts as we know them today by taking a look at the fact sheet the 2022 International Panel on Climate Change published on Central and South America. It easily traces the connection between water scarcity, drought and wildfires. This is where one becomes a bit more aware of the cascading effects of losing the cryosphere.

Glacier retreat, temperature increase and precipitation variability, together with land-use change, have affected ecosystems, water resources, and livelihoods through landslides and flood disasters (very high confidence). {ES-Ch12} Increasing water scarcity and competition over water are projected. Disruption in water flows will significantly degrade ecosystems such as high-elevation wetlands and affect farming communities, public health and energy production (high confidence). {ES-Ch12} Vulnerability and climate change impacts Central and South America are highly exposed, vulnerable and strongly impacted by climate change, a situation amplified by inequality, poverty, population growth and high population density, land use change particularly deforestation with the consequent biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and high dependence of national and local economies on natural resources for production of commodities (high confidence). {ES-Ch12} Many extreme events are already impacting the region and are projected to intensify; such events include warming temperatures and dryness, sea level rise, coastal erosion and ocean and lake acidification, resulting in coral bleaching, and an increasing frequency and severity of droughts in some regions, with a concomitant decrease in water supply, which impact agricultural production, traditional fishing, food security and human health (high confidence). {12.8} Climate Change Impacts and Risks Ecosystems Ocean and coastal ecosystems in the region such as coral reefs, estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves and sandy beaches are highly sensitive and negatively impacted by climate change and derived hazards (high confidence). Coral reefs are projected to lose their habitat, change their distribution range and suffer more bleaching events driven by ocean warming (high confidence). {ES-Ch12} The distribution of terrestrial species has changed in the Andes due to increasing temperature (very high confidence). Up to 85% of natural systems (plant and animal species, habitats and communities) evaluated in the literature for biodiversity hotspots in the region are projected to be negatively impacted by climate change (medium confidence). {ES-Ch12} The Amazon forest, one of the world’s largest biodiversity and carbon repositories, is highly vulnerable to drought (high confidence). The Amazon forest was highly impacted by the unprecedented droughts and higher temperatures observed in 1998, 2005, 2010 and 2015/2016 which are attributed partly to climate change. This resulted in high tree mortality rates and basin-wide reductions in forest productivity (high confidence). The combined effect of anthropogenic land use change and climate change increases the vulnerabilities of terrestrial ecosystems to extreme climate events and fires (medium confidence). {ES-Ch12} Food/Agriculture Since the mid-20th century, increasing mean precipitation has positively impacted agricultural production in Southeastern South America, although extremely long dry spells have become more frequent, affecting the economies of large cities in southeast Brazil. Conversely, reduced precipitation and altered rainfall seasons are impacting rainfed subsistence farming, particularly in the Dry Corridor in Central America and in the tropical Andes, compromising food security (high confidence). {ES-Ch12} Impacts on rural livelihoods and food security, particularly for small and medium-sized farmers and Indigenous peoples in the mountains, are projected to worsen, including the overall reduction of agricultural production, suitable farming area and water availability (high confidence). {ES-Ch12}.[8]


Now you can see there are a lot of corollary problems I am not delving into. On the positive side, this highlights the number and variability of economic opportunities that can make a difference.  Now back to lay language and familiar territory for US readers. Here we have the Colorado River in the western United States, fed by melting snow and glaciers. The Colorado River system provides water for nearly 40 million people and irrigates around 5 million acres of farmland.[9]  It is drying up before our very eyes.[10] Snowmelt and precipitation feed the section of the Colorado River that fills Lake Mead, providing water to Las Vegas. Lake Mead is a fraction of what it was and is dropping. The water level in Lake Mead is currently around 1,041 feet.[11] If water levels drop below 895 feet, it is considered a “dead pool” condition, and will not only fail to provide adequate drinking water but will jeopardize the Hoover Dam’s ability to provide electricity. It presently provides power to 1.3 million people in Arizona, California, and Nevada. [12] Las Vegas has mandated restrictions on water use there, starting with no new golf courses.[13] Tell me this isn’t a city ripe for parody. If your technical proposals don’t get anywhere, surely you can write a SNL skit or two about the level of environmental awareness in this town. Its over-the-top light displays and the fact that the casinos never turn off their outside lights surely invite ironic comment. In a recent National Geographic article, Christopher of the German Research Center for Biosciences laments, “You would think that environmental organizations would be all over light pollution, because it’s just such a complete waste. It’s a place where you can reduce energy consumption with basically no loss to anyone.”[14] Las Vegas partiers will likely argue that point and everyone knows there is not much sense arguing with a drunk. Time will tell how long Lake Mead and Las Vegas survive.


Now, I appear to digress here, but stick with me, it will circle back around quickly. The food chain is an abstract concept to those of us who buy our food in the grocery stores. We are all vaguely aware that we should care more that the natural world is losing keystone species in the food chain. We know that cows fart a lot contributing to methane emissions, one of the worst greenhouse gas emissions, that slaughterhouses are nightmarish, and that red meat contributes to high cholesterol. Still, fattening cows and chicken and promoting beef and poultry, well these are solutions to relying on the natural food chain to provide wildlife and fish for our food. So, even if the natural world of animals and fish die out because of warmer temperatures, ocean acidification,[15] holes in the food chain from overfishing, overhunting, contamination, or if loss of habitat decimates keystone species and halts the natural world from procreating and pollinating, the handful of major crops that sustain the world[16] will keep on growing (if current climate conditions persist, which they won’t, but let’s continue pretending) thanks to the chemical bolstering by the agricultural industry. And the meat and poultry industries will ensure that we will still have something chewable that resembles our idea of nourishing food. Technology will save us, right? In the US, locally produced food accounts for only 1.5% of agricultural food grown.[17] Worldwide, the largest one percent of farms in the world operate more than 70 percent of the world’s farmland.[18] In short, although we’d like to,[19] most of us do not eat from farm to table. Maybe the predator/prey balance that keeps the natural world able to sustain us doesn’t matter all that much, so we can take that worry off the table. Some crops grow without needing pollination.[20] And chemical fertilizers can provide nourishing soil from which to grow our food, right?


Can we live without the steady supply of water the cryosphere has been delivering us? The agriculture industry uses over 2 quadrillion gallons or 70% of the world’s water annually. [21] Quadrillion! You don’t hear that number a lot. It’s difficult to tease out the usage of water for the livestock industries because some of it is included in growing feed. In fact, the FAO estimate that one-third of cropland is for growing animal feed.[22]  I don’t want to provide inaccurate information, so suffice it to say that the meat and poultry industries use more than a few bucketloads of water. The garment industry uses four percent.[23] Globally, manufacturing uses nineteen percent of the world’s water.[24] That doesn’t leave a lot of water for the eight billion people in the world[25] to drink or wash to a hygienic level. In short, there’s not a lot of wiggle room before we don’t have enough water.


So, here’s where you come in. You can see from the fact sheet about the impact of glaciers melting on Central and South America that there are a lot of corollary problems caused by a warming climate. This is lesson one in mindfulness: think about the consequences of your actions, not only in the near future, but for subsequent generations. To this end, the UN has framed seventeen sustainable development goals,[26] which guide nations to consider all aspects of their decisions, including fair trade opportunities, sexual and racial equality, raising people out of poverty, and ensuring clean air and water. Every one of the UN’s 193 nations members have pledged support and to submit plans on how to achieve these goals. The High Level Political Forum reviews these submissions.[27] The Sustainable Development  Solutions Network[28]has 1728 academic and research institutes pledging support to realize the SDGs. And many other partners like the World Bank have treaties to support sustainable development.[29] Supporting stakeholders like you implement creative solutions to attain the development goals is what Sustainable Development Goal Number 17 is all about, and the UN will help steer you to resources for capacity development.[30] For a few concrete ideas, read my fantasy book Cloud 8,[31] about kickstarting a green economy utilizing refugees. Make this fantasy a reality and yourself a multimillionaire! Best wishes.




[3] IPCC, 2021