Irony Alert: Postal Service’s New ‘Forever’ Stamp Is Shrinking Alaskan Glacier!

An eagle-eyed reader directs us to this new ‘Forever’ stamp  from the U.S. Postal Service.

On Sunday, National Parks Traveler online explained:

Come Monday, you can send Kenai Fjords National Park around the country. At least figuratively, thanks to a new stamp from the U.S. Postal Service.

On Monday the Postal Service releases its Earthscapes stamp series featuring a new perspective on one of Kenai Fjords’ most photographed locations, Bear Glacier.

It is a very photographed glacier. Here, for instance, are a couple of Landsat photos NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey have put together in their fact sheet, “A Sensitive Giant: Alaska’s Bear Glacier:”

As the caption from NASA and USGS explains:

Look closely at the massive Bear Glacier shown in these Landsat satellite images and you’ll notice significant changes between 1986 and 2002. As the glacier has receded, many pieces of ice have broken off its end. In the 2002 image, you can see them floating like shards of white glass in the blue water. Bear Glacier is shrinking! From the early 1950s–1990s, Bear Glacier thinned about 2.5 feet (0.75 m) per year. Glaciers are particularly sensitive to climate trends, and widespread glacier recession is considered an indicator of global warming.

Note to Postal Service: Diamonds are forever. Glaciers, not so much.

Finally, the USGS has a series of images of Bear Glacier from 2002, 2005 and 2007 with a full explanation of the recent changes, which include thinning by “about 10 meters (33 feet)”:

Prior to 1950, the entire basin of Bear Lake was filled by Bear Glacier’s piedmont lobe. By 1961, a small lake occupying less than 10% of the basin had developed adjacent to the southeast margin of the glacier. By 1984, the lake nearly doubled in size. In the 18 years between 1984 and September 2002, the lake quadrupled in size. The triangular-shaped terminus of the glacier depicted here has retreated at least 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from its 1984 maximum position. The large tabular icebergs and the low relief, low-gradient terminus suggests that the terminus has thinned so much that much of its lower reaches are afloat…. The second photograph was made on August 6, 2005. During the 35 months between photographs, the triangular-shaped terminus of the glacier retreating more than 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) with the large triangular lobe disappearing, the result of intensive passive calving. The glacier has also thinned by about 10 meters (33 feet)…. (USGS).

Now that would make a good stamp.

h/t Hilobrow, who poses this question:

The Earthscapes stamps cost 45¢ apiece; back when Bear Glacier’s piedmont lobe filled its lake, it cost 3¢ to mail a letter. But the “Forever” stamps, unlike glaciers, are meant to survive rate increases. How much will it cost to mail a letter when Bear Glacier is gone?

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11 Responses to Irony Alert: Postal Service’s New ‘Forever’ Stamp Is Shrinking Alaskan Glacier!

  1. Visitor says:

    “The Earthscapes stamps cost 44¢ apiece; back when Bear Glacier’s piedmont lobe filled its lake, it cost 3¢ to mail a letter.”

    Actually, they’re 45 cents each.

  2. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Says it all really about the level of knowledge in the USA, ME

  3. Joe Romm says:

    Thanks for the catch!

  4. WVhybrid says:

    The latest first class price increase was January 12, 2012. Given the now almost yearly price increases, missing the price by less than nine months isn’t a huge mistake, especially if Joe never personally buys stamps.

  5. Karyn says:

    are you criticizing this series or trying to nail home the point it makes through symbolism? it is hard to tell. personally, i think this series is fabulous. if you look at the rest you also see depictions of suburbia, modern agriculture, and other symbols of the our world today.. all of them have “forever” crossed out. it’s brilliant, they will be sent all over the country!

  6. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Level of knowledge about the Arctic meltdown and climate change, ME

  7. Jacob says:

    The changes and the ignorance/denial of such changes are terrifying.

  8. Mauri Pelto says:

    This is great. It is worth noting that the view has changed quite a bit since 2007 with continued retreat of the Bear Lake Glacier and lake expansion.

  9. Chris says:

    I know why the Forever is actually crossed out, but it is a little funny since that glacier won’t actually be around forever.

  10. Robert in New Orleans says:

    The real question is will the glacier out live the Post Office?

  11. Kevin says:

    Hey y’all, I’m pretty sure the “Forever” is crossed out on these images to prevent you from easily printing your own counterfeit stamps. The actual stamps will just say “Forever.”