An Inconvenient Truth of Langtang-Lirung Glacier

Posted: April 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

Lantang Himal amidst of clouds and Lantang-Lirung glacier extending to the foot

Lantang Himal amidst of clouds and Lantang-Lirung glacier extending to the foot

“When I was a young, I used to play in those glaciers and it took only 20-30 minutes to reach there…. But now it takes about 2-3 hours to reach the head of glaciers”, a tourism entrepreneur in his 50s, who runs hotel in Kyanjing Gompa told us pointing towards the Lantang-Lirung glaciers. Lantang -lirung glacier is receding in an alarming rate, more than 30 metres per year.

I went trekking with my friends on Langtang Region this last autumn of 2008. Aahhh.. the place was beautiful with nice people living there. I was encircled by the magnificent snow capped mountains and glaciers stretching straight down the steep slopes towards me, it’s really beautiful and reviving.

Though the journey in the hood of the bus to Syaprubesi from Kathmandu was bloodcurdling with deep and steep gorges of Trishuli river by the side of the narrow road.  We trekked to Kyanjing Gompa via Sherpa Gaon, Lama Hotel, Ghoda Tabela and Thangshyap observing the panoramic views of higher mountains and took us two days to reach there, a small nice valley surrounded by beautiful, gorgeous and magnificent mountains. We climbed Tserko Ri peak of 5000m, the very next day, which took about 8 hours to reach the top. I have never climbed this height before. According to local people of Kyanjing Gompa, Tserko Ri peak used to be covered with snow almost whole year some few years ago. But these days the peak is almost snow free. The snow cover and glaciers of this region are gradually declining responding to the increasing temperature of the earth.

Although the Nepal releases insignificant amount of GHGs compared to developed countries (0.025% of the global share), it is one of the most vulnerable country. The lower economic condition and infrastructure development, fragile and diverse geological and ecological system, livelihood directly depending upon natural resources and agriculture (more than 80% people) makes this small Himalayan country highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It has adversely affected the greater Himalayas (third pole of the world); and bringing manifolds of consequences further weakening the livelihoods of people and pushing them into poverty.

The most significant impact of warming of earth is seen in the glacier ecosystem of Himalayan region and mountains livelihoods. Glaciers of Nepal are said to be retreating at the rate of 10 metre per year.

The Langtang-Lirung glacier has retreated by 2-3 km in less than 3 decades with its diminishing thickness extensively. Seeing these rapid changes in a single generation and even in a single stage of life is terrifying. Earth has never experienced such rapid changes in such a short scale of time in the billions of years of its life history. And humans are the most dangerous species that the earth has ever hosted pushing the whole ecosystem of earth and its own civilization in jeopardy.

This receding glacier will reduce the discharge of Langtang and Trishuli river which likely to bring shortage of fresh water to hundreds of thousands of people living downstream. This situation will further aggravate in the dry season which could lead to desertification and conflict for water. Thousands of farmers living in this river basin are being adversely affected as the flow of river reduces in dry season coupling with extreme climatic condition and change in monsoon pattern.

Furthermore Lantang receives very less snowfall this winter which in sure will bring down the winter food production. And the whole Himalayan regions are countering reducing trends of snowfall during the winter. The people of Himalayan region are likely to suffer from food crisis this year. The prolonged dry periods due to changing climatic condition has resulted to large and uncontrolled wildfires all over the Nepal affecting thousands of people living in these regions and the rich biodiversity of Nepal. NASA observed the wildfires in Nepal with a large sign of hovering brown clouds over the south Asian regions.

An Inconvenient Truth of warming of earth and its catastrophic impacts has been experienced by the world population and most terribly are experienced by the poor nations like us. And the other inconvenient truth is that the world leaders are slumbering and we people are ignoring.

Take Action before it’s too late!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments
  1. Anjana Shrestha says:

    the most impressive part of this story was attempt of giving climate change both face and voice by presenting experience of direct would be first victims. this kind of story knitting model is less practiced in Nepal despite of its huge potentiality in leaving deep impression to its readers.

    readers might wish to know about the possible adaptations to the above mentioned impacts in the region. of course, its not possible to include universe of climate change issue in a single story.adaptation part might be form next episode of the story.

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