Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Climate change impacts reveal alarming trends in Nepal

Udo Weber of the German embassy in Nepal, in TelegraphNepal: The big environmental issues cannot be solved on a national level. This is an experience we are making for centuries. The big river systems, be it in Europe, in the Middle East or in Asia have always been a connecting element between different people and countries - but they also have often been a major bone of contention (German – French history is a vivid example for this). Regional co-operation is therefore the only reasonable way of addressing environmental cross-border issues.

South Asia has always been – to some extent - prone to disasters, especially to water related disasters. In recent years, the risks and also the worldwide perception of risks, have change dramatically due to climate change. I therefore wish to elaborate a few points on climate change from a German perspective. Climate change is the definitive challenge of the 21st century. Changes in the climate destroy the basis on which a human life subsists; drought, for instance, leads to shortages in food and water. Rising sea levels are already threatening the territories of small island states like the Maldives and vast stretches of coastland as we see in Bangladesh.

Climate change impacts in Nepal demonstrate alarmingly increasing trends. According to a recent OECD report, Nepal's average mean temperature is projected to increase by 1.2 to 3 degrees Celsius in the next 40 to 90 years.

Warming trends will have adverse impact on Nepal's glacial landscapes and also bring the threat of Glacial Lake Outburst Flooding (GLOF). Both cause potential danger in the livelihood and security of billions of people depending on the Himalayan headwaters in the South and East Asian Regions.

Changes in snowfall patterns are already experienced which pose threats to Himalayan snow accumulation forcing glacial retreats. Dry season run-off of the rivers in Nepal emanating from the Himalayas is now partly reduced, meaning Nepal's largely agricultural economy, hydroelectricity potential and river-bank farming will be under substantial danger in coming years....

A frozen lake down to the Himalayan vilage of Manang, with an elevation of 3800 meters, shot by Liran Ben Yehuda, public domain

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