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As Switzerland’s glaciers shrink, a way of life may melt away

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The New York Times or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Switzerland's traditional alpine farming, a practice integral to the country's culture and economy, faces severe challenges due to climate change
Rising temperatures, retreating glaciers, and changing weather patterns are forcing Swiss farmers to adapt, with some extending their alpine seasons while others face earlier descents due to droughts

🔭 The context: Alpine farming, including the "summering" of livestock in the mountains, is a centuries-old practice vital to Swiss identity
The UNESCO-listed tradition supports local economies and sustains biodiversity, but is now threatened by environmental changes, particularly glacier retreat and altered snow patterns

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The changes in Swiss alpine farming reflect broader environmental issues facing Europe, such as water scarcity and ecosystem disruption
Switzerland, known as Europe's water tower due to its glaciers feeding major rivers, is experiencing significant glacier loss, impacting water availability across the continent

⏭️ What's next: Swiss farmers and the government are responding with adaptations like water infrastructure projects, solar-powered pumps, and adjustments in farming practices
However, these measures face limitations in mitigating the long-term impacts of climate change on traditional alpine farming

💬 One quote: "It would be all bushes and forest if we weren't here" (Andrea Herger, Swiss farmer)

📈 One stat: In the past two years, Swiss glaciers have lost 10% of their water volume, an amount equal to the total loss from 1960 to 1990

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change

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