The Rhine  is currently carrying so little water  that tankers can't transport normal payloads and fewer ships can travel along the river due to a very low water level. This created a situation where gas stations are empty  due to those logistical impairments. I wonder how exactly this might be connected to glaciers leaving.
The news are mostly covering this inconvenience from a consumer service perspective instead of linking it to climate change symptoms. It is also a good reminder for how suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere the situation can go from normal to chaos. Most people cannot imagine anything except normality (you need food? you go to a shop. you are ill? you visit the doctor. you are victim of a crime? you call the police.). Civilized normality seems rather like a very thin layer concealing the raw forces of a brutal nature.
The global warming is actually making the glaciers melt more rapidly and increasing the Rhine level a bit, but at the end of the year the water level is mostly determined by rain fall.
I thought though that maybe melting of glaciers might reduce the sealing of water basins (lakes) serving as a source for the Rhine. Causing the water to seep into the lake bed.
What to do? Once actually "solving" the problem becomes a critical political issue, will there be anything left to "solve"?
At first glance it does not seem obvious at all that the water cycle as we know it will be recognisable in 100 years.
This is already a big issue for industry in the summer
Really, if anybody is into mountains and admiring those alpine terrains, enjoy them now while you can. In maybe 30 years, the only place to admire them in Chamonix area will be from Aiguille du Midi, sitting 3800m high on top of a rocky needle.
I expect other high-altitude european easy-to-reach places like Zermatt and Eiger will be in same or even worse state due to nature of the terrain there.
Moreover the spring and summer of 2018 were warm  and sunny  in Europe. The comparison picture in the article of this tiny glacier after a cold  and cloudy  spring and summer of 2006 is not a solid basis for drawing conclusions.
Obvious: glacier growing means it accumulates more snow (that will slowly convert into solid ice) than is melting in the summer.
This autumn has been really great for outdoors but disastrous to glaciers - extremely warm till end of october, no precipitation at all for more than a month.
Once the temperature reaches a point where net accumulation no longer occurs anywhere on the glacier it quickly disappears.
For me it looks like the overall amount of ice in the alps shrank a lot 10.000 years ago. Since then it remained relatively constant with the last 50 years giving it the final straw.
Reducing global population may happen, but it would take multiple generations, so is hardly relevant to short-medium term climate change policy. Reducing emissions however is practicable over the timespans relevant to climate change.
Usually when people say 'overpopulation' they mean the irrational counter-emphasis, ie. "they should stop having babies, so we can keep driving vast CO2-spewing SUVs, eating scads of industrially-produced meat, and generally fouling our rapidly decaying nest".
Not necessarily. Both overpopulation and climate change are problems. Even folks who don't drive CO2-spewing SUVs understand that. (I 'drive' a bicycle while spewing CO2 out my mouth, so there.)
It's trivially true that population is part of the equation. But it's pragmatically irrelevant to short-medium term policy when we know we are in a state of critical global emergency, with natural systems collapsing apace. Policy needs to address that right now. I doubt the "overpopulation!" expostulators are really proposing a human cull as policy. I'm not sure what else that leaves as their motivation other than misdirection.
No need to propose a human cull. Simply make large families something socially unacceptable and promote via campaigns and the tax system. It could easily change as extensively and rapidly as single earner family with stay at home mothers have.
It has to be part of any rational solution.
We've seen this in far smaller numbers with those attempting to cross the Med etc in unseaworthy overloaded boats, and the associated deaths.
Of course there's also likely to be disease and starvation in any ad hoc refugee camps that arise.
I share a house with two who claim to be. They do shut up about it when I suggest that they go first however.
To clarify: of course we'll need to find some way to keep a check on human population. But it's a generational policy issue which we won't remotely have the global social/political stability to address if we don't substantially curb CO2 emissions in the next few decades.
And it's not the one you think.
Starting a global nuclear war is easier than coordinating the world to fight climate change.
There are plenty of policies that could stem the rise in global emissions, so we move on to the politics. There I agree with you. There isn't a plausible political route to the global policies we need. My view of the future is that ecosystems will collapse, and, probably in the second half of this century, 'civilisation' (huh) will crumble as mutiple successive wars over declining resources and forced population movements sweep the globe.
Otherwise, I agree with you. Barring killing people who live now, any attempt now at reducing population will start having meaningful impact decades from now (kids use less energy than adults). We need solutions that deliver impact on much shorter timeframes.
Multiple wars have taken place in the 60 years or so since global nuclear war has become possible. Most of those wars have involved at least one, sometimes several of the great nuclear powers, including as (somewhat indirect) opponents.
Nuclear war doesn't seem to break out that easily.
But my point here can be extended to non-nuclear wars, population-elimination strategies (genocide) and extreme population control (sterilization, one-child-max-or-else). They're all adversarial, and this is something that comes easy to humans. Whereas implementing policies to help deal with climate require coordination at scale, which is something we particularly suck at.
Yes, quite. We're primates with a impressive cognitive, linguistic & cultural abilities, but there's nothing in our makeup or history to offer much confidence that we are capable of making hard collective decisions on a planetary scale. The naked ape may have hit its limits.
There are plenty of high-population countries with low carbon emissions (eg Nigeria, Pakistan). There are plenty of low population countries with high carbon emissions (eg Australia, UAE).
There are rich countries with high carbon emissions (USA, UAE, Australia) and rich countries with low absolute emissions (Switzerland) or in per capita terms (Germany). There are poorer countries with high emissions (Kazakhstan) and low emissions (Vietnam)
It's almost like what people do matters as much as how many there are!
In short, the countries "on the top" are actually responsible for a lot of emissions produced in the countries "at the bottom."
Even the countries "on the top" are actually responsible for a lot of emissions produced in the countries "at the bottom." statement isn't super accurate, because US emissions are primarily domestic (while Chinese are much more mixed).
Either way, it's inaccurate to try to simplify it to "overpopulation" or even to draw to much of a link between population and emissions.
I agree only if the data about the countries are observed independently. That is, if somebody says "the country X is so and so because overpopulation." But once we speak about the world:
Once one accepts that there's only one planet and the humans on it, it's much more obvious: the critics are always ready to say that the humans as the whole starve less as we reached this number of billions. But the analysis of how it was possible gives a simple answer: we have pushed the previous limits by simply using more resources and more energy. Both of which are much more limited than a lot of humans are willing to know: the heavier elements (and even as light as helium) are produced in the stars, so once we don't have enough available on the earth's crust, we'll have big problems. The arable land is also limited, we're already mostly using everything usable, and pushing the limits there affects everything else. Finally, we managed to use half of easily reachable oil, only to discover a new way to exact it, giving us approximately a few times more than before. But by burning the hydrocarbons we're making very big problems for everything on the planet, including us.
Look at these graphs, soon you will not be able, thanks to the administration which doesn't like such details to be even read about:
especially "Global Per Capita Carbon Emission Estimates." Note that in the same time period the number of capita of the world steadily increases.
At 2000 we were at 6 billion. Now we're at 7.7 billion.
We do continuously use at least the same energy per every human on the planet, not less (in fact we used mostly always more and more). And given that a lot of people in the "second and third world" produce the stuff for the people in the first, the "first world" just enjoys the benefits of the cheap labor and new consumers being steadily born in new quantities and the use of more energy for everything, but all at the cost of... the whole future.
So yes, in such a context overpopulation of the planet is one of the topics that are so inconvenient that most are not even ready to think about it.
Ummm, no. You need to stop commuting with full sized SUVs and living in a 4,000sqft home.