Will Global Warming Hijack The Mighty Himalayas?

Komik – the village where tourists pose ahead of board that says, ‘World’s Highest Motorable Road’ has run dry! How much more the Himalayas are going to see due to climate change?

Samyak Sheth

Can you imagine India without the pristine snow-capped angels called Himalayas? It is every traveller’s dream to step foot on the historic Himalayan mountain ranges atleast once in their lifetimes and explore the secrets of these troves of knowledge.

But the changing climate at the world’s largest and highest mountain range – the Himalayas shows doom.

Himalayas are a mountain range in Asia, including the earth’s highest mountain peaks. The highest is the Mount Everest. Himalayas separate the Indian subcontinent and Tibet.

KOMIK’S CHALLENGES

Due to the Global Warming in mountainous region, the world’s highest village, Komik has run dry. It lies near India’s border with Tibet at 15,050 ft.

In Komik; for the 130 residents life has started becoming difficult.

In this village the residents don’t have any connectivity for six months of the year, when the snowfall blocks mountain passes, schools and clinics are far away. Imagine that kind of life in this era when everything is about being connected!

Due to the increasing level of global warming Spiti valley’s nearly 12,000 inhabitants, who constantly rely their living on farming green peas and barley, are very much concerned as their main sources of water: streams, rivers, ponds which are completely drying up.

“We are used to being in a remote place. We have our traditional ways of living,” said farmer Nawang Phunchok, 32, as he sat tying bundles of a prickly desert bush together to insulate the local monastery’s roof.

“But these days the water is not coming like it used to. The seasons are changing. We see there is less water than before,” he added.

The study centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research has warned that retreating glaciers of the Himalayas are creating glacial melt lakes which may cause flash floods in the valley!

Since the past decade the research conducted on this suggests that most of the Himalayan glaciers are loosing glacier mass except the Karakoram region. And this can be very dangerous.

We are all well-acquainted with the fact that floods in India not wreak havoc but cause an irreparable injury to the people living in those areas. Now compare the floods in Gujarat and Assam with possible flooding that can be caused due to the huge glaciers on this even huger mountains! The most vulnerable regions will be those where largely the population depends on water resources from glaciers during the dry season.

“One of the most crucial hazards related to the enhanced retreat of Himalayan glaciers is the increased formation of glacier lakes behind unstable debris dams. These natural dams are poised to collapse with increased melt water accumulation and could send disastrous floods hurtling down the Himalayan valley,” Thamban Meloth, group director of Polar Sciences at NCAOR, an autonomous institute under the Union ministry of earth sciences said.

Such incidents are not completely due to the global warming – because in a way we are responsible. There are multiple factors that are behind this change in the mountains.

In Spiti there is only one cropping season, unlike the rest of India that has two! Their ‘kuls’ (man-made water channels that take water from the glaciers to the village water reservoirs) are running dry with winters becoming shorter and summers, longer.

Water resources in all the affected areas have been increased, there has been construction of water tanks, water catchment areas. Due to the six months of the snow the weather over there is highly limited. In the season of snow big ad major work cannot be done.

A study shows that since the last five decades area of the glaciers have reduced by 13 percent, the temperatures at the Himalayas have rose to 2 degree Celsius.

WATER SCENARIO IN INDIA

As per the World Resources Institute India is one of the most water-challenged countries. In the last decade, more than 50% of the country’s water wells have dried up.

Nearly 63 million of the Indian rural population do not have clean water to drink, cook and wash.

76 million of the population require improvised water sources.

770 million of the people require proper toilets.

“There exists a huge knowledge gap regarding the connection between water scarcity and climate change. There is an immediate need to fill this gap and make people aware about the importance of water conservation,” said WaterAid India’s Puneet Srivastava.

“The government also needs to undertake severe measures to regulate and monitor the use of groundwater resources,” he further said.

 The risks posed to food security and the plight of around 200 million farm workers are also a major concern.

Have you ever wondered that our tiny actions of contributing to environmental pollution can have such a huge impact?

Samyak Sheth
Samyak Sheth

A traveller and journalist who views the world wearing multi-coloured goggles. He believes that life is to live not to survive.

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