The Stream, October 19, 2021: Major Canadian Glacier Melting Rapidly, Scientists Say


  • The Biden administration will require chemical manufacturers in the United States to report the amount of PFAS chemicals in household items.
  • Floods and landslides in southern India kill nearly three dozen people.
  • Thousands of homes in one Thai province are impacted by ongoing floods.
  • South Africa will remove thousands of hectares of invasive pine trees that are cutting off Cape Town’s water supplies.

A major glacier in Banff National Park that feeds Alberta’s water supply could melt by the end of the century.

“It clearly is the most extreme melt that we’ve seen.” – Brian Menounos, glaciologist at the University of Northern British Columbia. Researchers say that the Saskatchewan Glacier in Banff National Park has melted more than 10 meters in the last year, according to CBC. Experts say the melting was caused in part by a heat wave in early June, but soot and wildfire smoke were also factors. Menounos said the glacier, which helps supply drinking water to Alberta, will be mostly gone by the end of the century.


In Case You Missed It:

HotSpots H2O: As Famine Looms in East Africa, Humanitarian Groups Call for Urgent Action – Drought has left millions in the region facing food insecurity – and conditions are expected to get worse.

What’s Up With Water – October 18, 2021 – This week’s episode covers garbage and high levels contaminating South African rivers, an agreement between Israel and Jordan extending their long record of water cooperation, a province in China hit by major flooding, a new study that has identified major infrastructure systems that are vulnerable to rising waters in the United States.

Biden Administration Will Require Chemical Manufacturers To Report PFAS Chemicals in Household Items

The Biden administration will require chemical manufacturers to test and publicly report the amount of PFAS chemicals in household items like tape, nonstick pans and stain-resistant furniture, The New York Times reports. PFAS chemicals are known as a type of “forever chemical” because they do not break down in the environment. They have been known to contaminate public drinking water supplies and research says high levels of the chemicals could lead to decreased vaccine response in children and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer, among other issues.

  • Why it matters: PFAS contamination in Oscoda, Michigan is well documented. The chemicals are flowing underground, mostly unimpeded, from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base where PFAS compounds, sprayed for decades during training exercises to extinguish petroleum fires, soaked into the groundwater. Current and former Oscoda residents and veterans who served at Wurtsmith have stories of odd cancers and a profusion of illnesses that have stumped doctors looking for a cause. They wonder if their ailments are connected to the relatively unstudied toxic residues in soil and water, Circle of Blue reported in 2018.



Floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains in the southern Indian state of Kerala have killed at least 35 people. Authorities fear that number could rise dramatically, Al Jazeera reports. Floods are common during monsoon season in India, but climate change has made the disasters more frequent and more intense within the past decade.


Floods in Thailand have impacted more than 38,000 households in the central province of Suphan Buri this year, according to the Associated Press. This week, officials were forced to release water into the already swollen Tha Chin River after a nearby reservoir reached full capacity. Officials say other rivers around the country, which has been hit by large-scale flooding since Tropical Storm Dianmu hit in late September, could face the same possibility.


Crews in South Africa are removing invasive pine trees that are cutting off water supplies to millions of residents in Cape Town. Reuters reports that the crews are aiming to remove 54,000 hectares of the trees by 2025 to regain an estimated 55 billion liters of water lost each year. The pine trees are the backbone of South Africa’s commercial forestry industry, but their seeds spread rapidly from plantations to protected nature reserves.

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