Saturday, December 31, 2011

Climate change endangers millions in South Asia

Zafar Iqbal the Eurasia Review: Millions of people in South Asia are vulnerable to climate change because of depleting glaciers, increasing coastal erosion, frequent floods and other natural disasters associated with global warming, warn environmentalists and development agencies.

“We are extremely vulnerable to climate change threats.” Says Dr. Durga Poudel, Head of Department of Renewable Resources, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He has extensively studied climatic patterns of South Asia.

“Our coping mechanism/resources are very limited and are dwindling, the level of public awareness is very low, and the national, regional, and local adaptation strategies and programs are insufficient and lack scientific rigors.”

Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) 2011, issued by risks advisory firm Maplecroft ranks Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, Afghanistan and Nepal amongst highest risk category of 16 countries that face ‘extreme risk,’ because of the climate-related natural disasters and sea-level rise; population patterns, agricultural dependency and conflicts and other factors.

‘Over the next 30 years their vulnerability to climate change willrise due to increases in air temperature, precipitation and humidity, report added.
Shrinking and retreating of the Himalayan glaciers is greatest environmental threat to the region. Himalayan glaciers are lifeline of Asia’s mightiest rivers — the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, Yangtze, and Mekong, upon which 1.3 billion people depend Several fresh environmental studies and findings indicate that Himalayan Mountains, encompassing Bhutan, Tibet, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, are receding alarmingly. As a result, livelihoods of millions of inhabitants of these countries living around the rivers which depend upon glacial waters are at stake. Emission of green house gases from China is the chief hazard to Himalayas. China is world’s single biggest emitter of carbon dioxide- the main greenhouse gas. Since 1961 sharp increase in the temperature has been reported in Himalayan glaciers adjoining to China. Chinese’s coal industry is blamed for this alarming surge. These deadly emissions cause irrecoverable loss to snow covered Himalayan peaks and responsible for death of 750,000 people every year in the country....

In southern China, just north of the border with Nepal, one unnamed Himalayan glacier flows from southwest to northeast, creeping down a valley to terminate in a glacial lake. On December 25, 2009, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image of the glacier.

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