Year 4, Month 5, Day 27: River Deep, Mountain High

The LA Times, on Mount Everest. So to speak.

A warming climate is melting the glaciers of Mount Everest, shrinking the frozen cloak of Earth’s highest peak by 13% in the last 50 years, researchers have found.

Rocks and natural debris previously covered by snow are appearing now as the snow line has retreated 590 feet, according to Sudeep Thakuri, a University of Milan scientist who led the research.

The pessimistic view of Earth’s tallest peak was presented during a meeting Tuesday of the American Geophysical Union in Cancun, Mexico.

Researchers said they believe the observed changes could be due to human-generated greenhouse gases altering global climate, although their research has not established a firm connection.

The team reconstructed the glacial history of the area using satellite imagery and topographic maps of Everest and the surrounding 713-square-mile Sagarmatha National Park. Their statistical analysis shows that the majority of the glaciers in the national park are retreating at an increasing rate, Thakuri said.

Why? Because it’s not there. May 15:

Once we set aside the iconic importance of a shrinking Mount Everest, the really ominous facts about disappearing ice caps in the Himalayas are the numbers of people whose lives depend on them. Whether it’s for irrigation, hydroelectric generation, or clean drinking water, this steady flow from the world’s tallest mountains is crucial for the existence of almost a seventh of the world’s population. If we subtract that water from the picture, what’s left are hundreds of millions of climate refugees, desperate, landless, hungry, thirsty.

But these people may be more fortunate than many in the developed world who rely on elaborate infrastructure for their food and water. Why? Because they can simply look up and see the daily changes on these peaks, they’re not tempted by magical thinking and ideologically-motivated denialism, like those whose air-conditioned lives have allowed them to ignore the climate crisis until it’s already upon them.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 4, Day 12: Imagine….

The Hindustan Times reports on a conference of mountain nations hosted by the Nepali government. Good for them:

Threat posed by global warming and the need to have a collective voice in climate change negotiations have brought mountain countries from across the world to one platform.

Representatives from government and organization from over two dozen countries having peaks with heights of 4,000
metres or more have gathered here to deliberate on the way ahead.

Initiated by Nepal government, the two-day conference will discuss effects of climate change on 25% of land Earth’s surface covered by mountains and nearly 13% world population residing there.

The objective is to promote concerns of mountain countries within UNFCCC process, draw global attention to the threat, seek solutions and adopt a Kathmandu Call for Action.

Terming climate change as the greatest threat facing humankind, Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav said that mountain nations are experiencing disproportionate effects of it.

I’m just a peacenik. Sent April 5:

Only a few years ago, climate change was generally understood as something that would only affect our descendants. Now, as the likely consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect become evident in our daily lives, it’s apparent that we — all humanity — are on the front lines of a battle against a remorseless and unfeeling enemy. The conference of mountain nations initiated by the Nepalese government is one of many international collaborations that may very well be our species’ best chance of survival.

As even the nations most invested in climate-change denial will eventually discover, this enemy attacks mountains and islands alike, ravaging forests and deserts with impersonal efficiency. We are under assault by forces we have ourselves created through profligate consumption of fossil fuels, and to win this battle, we must enter a new era of international cooperation; the fight against climate change leaves no more room for war.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 8, Day 1: From The Roof Of The World…

One of the world’s most experienced Everest hands, Apa Sherpa, has firsthand testimony about the effects of climate change, reports the July 16th edition of The Hindu:

It was in 1985 that Apa Sherpa, who scaled Mount Everest for the 21st time in May 2011, came face to face with climate change. His entire village Thame was washed away in a massive glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) of the Dig Tsho (Tsho-lake), in the western section of the Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park, Khumbu Himal, on August 4, 1985.

The veteran mountaineer, who dropped out of school at 12 to work as a porter for expeditions to support his family, told The Hindu that the lake burst at 2 a.m. and he had a narrow escape. Now his worry is another glacial lake in the Everest region, Imja, which is growing bigger. “Imja Khola is a threat to the entire region and I can’t say if it is as safe as is made out to be. We have to do something before it bursts.” Imja, located in the Khumbu region close to the Everest base camp, did not exist in photographs taken in the 1950s, but now has rapidly expanded to 1.012 sq km.

When The Force offers you a good analogy, take it. Sent July 16:

The Sherpa villagers below the burgeoning Imja lake in Mount Everest’s shadow have much to teach the rest of humanity. Of all the world’s peoples, these villagers have contributed not a single iota to the CO2 emissions that have built up in our atmosphere over the past century and now threaten to trigger a runaway greenhouse effect — yet they are the ones who daily look up at a growing lake poised over their heads.

All the Earth’s peoples now face the Sherpas’ Damoclean predicament. If humanity is to endure and prosper, it is time to get to work on controlling our carbon emissions, addressing the genuine threat of climate change. The world’s political and economic leaders appear to care more for profits than people, but it’s only through a global transition to renewable energy that they, and we, will survive the coming centuries of climate chaos.

Warren Senders