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Himalayas Under Threat; Supplies Water to Billions

February 14, 2011

I watched PBS Nature last light. Another truly excellent program, this time on the Himalayas.

Watch the full episode, click here

I read a very interesting report late last year on the state of the Himalayan glaciers. No doubt, they are under threat from global warming. But, there are ongoing conflicting reports as to the rate of glacier melt.

Time reported on January 21, 2011: On Wednesday (the day after Republican Scott Brown, an opponent of cap and trade, seized a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts), a new scandal broke over climate science. Faced with criticism of a widely quoted piece of analysis from its 2007 climate assessment that warned that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was forced to admit to relying on dubious scientific sources, apologized and retracted its earlier estimate. That estimate of the rate of Himalayan glacier loss because of warming, which appeared in the same assessment that earned the global body a share of the Nobel Peace Prize, was “poorly substantiated,” the IPCC said.

Time continues:
Indeed, while Himalayan ice will almost certainly still be here in 2035, it is definitely melting — and that will have a serious impact on the billions of people in Asia who depend at least partially on Himalayan meltwater. Yao Tandong, head of China’s Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, has done on-the-ground research on the Chinese side of the Himalayas — the world’s biggest collection of ice outside the two poles — and reported last year that by the end of the century, as much as 70% of the mountain range’s glaciers could disappear. And far from providing evidence against climate change, nearly all alpine glaciers worldwide that have been tracked have shown significant melting over the past several decades — often documented in photographs. “It’s happening globally, in Europe, North America, China and the Himalayas,” says Lonnie Thompson, a glacier expert at Ohio State University. “More than 90% of the world’s glaciers are retreating. Glaciers have no political agenda.”

In a recent interview, the Prime Minister of Nepal, Madhav Kumar, spoke about the Himalaya’s melting around Nepal: “The snows are melting. Glaciers, many of the glaciers, Himalaya glaciers, has evaporated, has disappeared. Many glacial lakes are emerging… We have seen many landslides there and no regular land or rainfall there. Droughts and all these problems relating to the health of the people has been seen… And the impact on the mountainous region is much more in the downstream, where 1.3 billion of the population live in India, in Bangladesh. So the problem of Nepal is not only the problem of Nepal’s people, rather the problem of at least 1.3 billion of population.”

Source: It’s Getting Hot in Here

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