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Increasing populations + rapidly decreasing access to water = Very. Bad. Stuff. (Photo below by AP)

t1everest

The people that will be most directly affected by this aspect of climate change get it:

Everest hosts Nepal cabinet meeting

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) -- Nepal's cabinet met at the base of Everest on Friday to highlight the impact of climate change on the Himalayas and adopted a 10-point Everest Declaration.

"The Himalayas are important not only for the people of Nepal but for 1.3 billion people who depend on waters from the mountains for their livelihoods," said Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal at the cabinet meeting broadcast live by state-owned Nepal Television.

The melting of the glaciers in the mountains due to global warming would bring about a scarcity of water in the river systems in South Asia, affecting more than a billion people in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, according to various experts.

(All remaining photos by LaughingPlanet)

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In a region which is home to over one third of the planet's humans, we are watching the most vital element for the sustainability of life disappear:

Now, a growing number of glaciers are losing their equilibrium, or their capacity to build up enough snow and ice at high altitudes to compensate for the rate of melting at lower ones. After surveying the Himalayas for many years, the respected Chinese glaciologist Yao Tandong recently warned that, given present trends, almost two-thirds of the [Tibetan] plateau’s glaciers could well disappear within the next 40 years. With the planet having just experienced the 10 hottest years on record, the average annual melting rate of mountain glaciers seems to have doubled after the turn of the millennium from the two decades before.

manakorawomen

The evidence is overwhelming:

"Six metres in six months," he cried, breathing hard in the thin mountain air as The Times and the rest of his team stepped gingerly between hidden crevasses and gushing rivulets of freshly melted ice.

"It’s pathetic," he said. "The glacier is dying."

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This is a huge problem for residents of India, which will very soon take over the title of the world's most populous country. More than half of its citizens depend upon water that comes from the Himalaya.

In the Uttarakhand region, the Navdanya research shows that in the past ten years 34% of some 809 perennial streams in the region have become seasonal or completely dried up. On average, water discharge has dropped 67%.

corn-mountain

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Here's a good 8 minute video about the evidence that the "3rd pole" is facing grave new threats to its ice and the freshwater it preserves.

A couple quotes from the video to whet your appetite, but it's well worth 8 minutes of your time:

No one yet has come up with a political agenda a glacier might have to be behaving like it is, except the climate on the planet is changing.

I think of a glacier like a bank account; a water bank account that has built up over thousands of years. In the 21st century, we are taking more out of that bank account than we are putting in.

.

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The previous Dkos dairy on this topic, an October diary by Bob Zimway,

gives you a sense of how important glacially-fed rivers are to Asia. The lack of surface runoff in the lowlands caused by drought obviously affects river volume as well, and drought has persisted in western Nepal for two years, as the winter monsoons have failed.

   Pradeep Mool of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Nepal, said studies show that most glaciers in the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau have been shrinking at accelerated rates in recent decades and most Valley glaciers too are retreating.

News since then is no better.

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In fact a recent study shows things are much worse than we believed even just 2 months ago:

But when the team analyzed samples of glacier, what they found stunned them. Glaciers around the planet are usually dated by looking for two pulses of radioactivity buried in the ice. These are the leftovers from American and Russian atomic bomb testing in the 1950's and 1960's.

In the Naimona'nyi samples, there was no sign of the tests. In fact, the glacier had melted so much that the exposed surface of the glacier dated to 1944.

"We were very surprised not to find the 1962-1963 horizon, and even more surprised not to find the 1951-1952 signal," Thompson said. In more than twenty years of sampling glaciers all over the world, this was the first time both markers were missing.

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Please spend some time this week speaking out on behalf of the hundreds of millions of people who don't have the choice to be politically active.

Hunza-Women-Karimabad

The people of this land downstream from these vanishing glaciers are some of the very poorest subsistence farmers in the world. Most people don't realize that  Nepal is one of the most impoverished nations on Earth (176 of 194 in the world GDP/capita). Nearby Bangladesh (162) does not fare much better.

The state of Bihar, just south of Nepal, is the poorest in India.

These people don't really have the luxury of picking up their phone to call their Congressperson, or their country's President to tell them they need immediate action to curb the effects of global warming.

Call the White House about the Climate Summit in Copenhagen.
Tell them there is no time to wait for strong action.

White House
202-456-1111
202-456-1414

X-posted @ DKGreenroots and The Laughing Planet
Special thanks to RLMiller for many of the links in this diary.
Mt Kailash

GreenRoots is a new environmental series created by Meteor Blades and Patriot Daily for Daily Kos. This series provides a forum for educating, brainstorming, discussing and taking action on various environmental topics.

Please join a variety of hosts on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 6 pm PDT.   Each Wednesday is hosted by FishOutofWater.

Originally posted to The Laughing Planet on Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 09:30 PM PST.

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