There is none so deaf as those who will not hear and none so blind than those who will not see. It is both shocking and sad that even today we have among us some phenomenally blinkered deniers of climate change. But the reality of the blue planet fast nearing its death throes dawns anew each day with more concrete scientific evidences.
According to a new study by Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, one-third of Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2100. Even if carbon emissions are limited to 1.5C to avert the worst impact of climate change, 36 percent of the glaciers in the region will be gone by the end of this century. Increasing temperatures have led to the decline of snow-covered areas in the region significantly. Considering that global greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, glacier mass loss could accelerate.
What does it mean to the mountain countries? What does it mean to Bhutan?
Bhutan in the recent years has experienced increasing sings of global warming and climate change – frequent storm and landslides. Water availability has reduced significantly. Glacial lake outburst floods are Bhutan’s greatest climate-induced threats. With shifting precipitation patterns, climate change’s impacts on the freshwater resource system could pose serious threat to the nation’s industrial, agricultural, and hydroelectric sectors.
Reducing disaster risk and building resilience are the few options we have before we are overwhelmed by the devastating impact of climate change. As frequency and intensity of natural hazards increase, remoteness of our communities and difficult terrain will pose challenges in terms of an emergency. The study recommends disaster risk reduction as particularly important in mountain areas for many reasons, including the multi-hazard environment, land use pressure, and the effects of climate change. Mainstreaming climate change and environment issues into development is, therefore, critically important. Much we have done regarding climate change adaptation as a serious conservationist, but more needs to be done.
The great caveat is that sustaining mountain environments and livelihoods will be a lost cause otherwise.