What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change

What is the truth about the Himalaya’s Glacier melt? Why not go see for yourself?

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In recent times I’ve been reading a lot about climate change not being real. First the climate gate scandal followed by

These mountains in the depths of district of Chamba in the state of Himachal Pradesh (India) used to have a lot more snow.

the many articles attacking the IPCC for incorrectly publishing information on the glaciers melting in the Himalayas by 2035. Climate scientists, economics, politicians and business persons are being interviewed left, right and centre.

The question on the lips of the public is – what is the truth? The truth is such an interesting thing – where more often than not, it is a human tendency for a person to believe what they want to hear.

I pose a question to all people who are jumping on the bandwagon of denying the Himalayan glacier melt due to an error made by the IPCC, and denying the existence of climate change. How many of you have been to the Himalayas? How many of you have spoken to the citizens in the mountains of India and Nepal who have spent their whole lives there? 

Very few of you – if any.

I do not say this to accuse anyone of being a immoral or irresponsible, however before we make accusatory remarks and write articles of great consequence, we must get our facts straight.

I am not a climate scientist, economist, business person or a politician. However I have been to the Himalayas and met some of its people.

I was up near Haridwar, at the foot of the Himalaya’s in northern India only weeks ago, speaking to friends and colleagues who have grown up in the mountains their entire lives. Every single person spoke with sadness at how quickly the glaciers have receded in their lifetime. Some mentioned to me how many of them have had to move homes in search of better soil, because the melting glaciers have meant changes in water access and there for loss of agricultural productivity. For those of you who are farmers, I’m sure you can understand how painful that process can be.

Furthermore, 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.”

And he is right. It’s not only a problem of ice disappearing in the mountains, and sea levels rising. For us in India our major rivers are dependent on the Himalayas, our monsoons are dependent on the Himalayas. Although it is great they won’t disappear by 2035, even the current rate of change is going to be problematic due to the imbalances it creates.

We all make mistakes – we are humans. And if we’re going to focus on the IPCC’s mistake of over estimating the speed of the glacier melt, then we should also focus on the major understimations made by the IPCC on the melting rate of Greenland and the Western Antartic ice shelfs.  

It’s easy to ignore reality, and choose which truth we want to believe. Especially when we’re sitting in in the comfort of our homes in front of our television or computer, thousands of miles away from the people that suffer. I understand that the idea of a world without coal and oil is scary to many people, because that is the world we’ve grown up with. However before you write an article or propagate that climate change isn’t real – please come to the Himalayas first. Look at what is happening, and look the Himalayan people in the eyes and tell them that climate change isn’t real.

See, we can’t negotiate with mother earth. The people who live with the land and in the mountains know this best. So please don’t negotiate their future.

I’m glad that the Himalayan Glaciers won’t melt by 2035, because now hundreds of millions of people in South Asia have a chance at survival. However we can’t go back to questioning the existence of climate change when so many have already died and suffered. Humans are the same everywhere, they all have families, they all have hearts, and they all grieve when they lose their homes, their livelihood and their loved ones. And that is what climate change is doing. It is destroying families. 

Have compassion for these families who have already suffered from glacier melt, and those who face the such threats. The time is to stay strong, think big, and cooperate.

I have faith that humanity will pull through, not only this bout of scepticism, but will also pull through in protecting our planet from irreversible, dangerous climate change.

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