The first ever assessment of the impact of climate change and global warming on Hindu Kush Mountain Region (HKMR) by The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a regional inter-governmental body was released on February 4, 2019. It has raised serious concerns about the drastic negative impact that climate change will have on Asia.
Hindu Kush Himalayan Region known as the world’s “Third Pole” is source of about 10 major rivers including Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganges, which are a lifeline for more than 2 billion people of this region (India, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar Pakistan and China). So about 33% of the world’s population depends on it. From these numbers itself we can know about the seriousness of the issue that lies ahead of us.
This region is home to Mount Everest, K2 and many others, and is a water, carbon and energy source and is also a biodiversity hotspot. According to the ICIMOD Report, if current emission rate continues, HKMR will lose most of its glaciers, which will cause serious floods, loss of livelihood and income, erosion, landslides, biodiversity and crop loss, etc. The HKMR region has been facing the brunt of global warming since the 1970’s the region is fragile and vulnerable and is negatively impacted due to increase in pollution.
David James Molden, director general of Kathmandu-based (ICIMOD) said “The HKH region is warming faster than the global average. And would continue to do so for this century.” He also said that even if Paris Agreement (COP 21) of limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is achieved, the mountain temperatures would still rise 2 degrees and current emissions will spike the temperature up to 4 and 6 degrees, which will have dire consequences, a point of no return as many scientists have claimed.
Under current emissions, we will lose more than two third of our glaciers by the year 2100. Many Indian cities for example have become so polluted , that breathing there is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes on a daily basis. China had to declare a emergency due to high level of pollution in its cities. Many biodiversity regions have been lost and already South Asia is home to millions of poor people, who don’t have access to food, water, health, education, clean energy and minimum basic facilities, and the fast melting glaciers in this region will further worsen the situation, as shown in these reports.
South Asia has been going through rapid change with growing population, infrastructure development, change in land use, rapid groundwater withdrawals, migration, natural disasters, etc. Eklabya Sharma, Deputy DG of ICIMOD said “Because many of the disasters and sudden changes will play out across country borders, conflict among the region’s countries could easily flare up. But the future doesn’t have to be bleak if governments work together to turn the tide against melting glaciers and the myriad impacts they unleash.”
South Asian countries are divided on many issues, but this issue must act as a catalyst that unites these countries to work towards a common challenge that is in front of them. They must work on regional cooperation, multilateral actions, cross border collaborations are needed; SAARC can be used as a platform for this. The knowledge of local communities can be used; along with it, technological and scientific knowledge must be used. Developed countries must come forward and provide the necessary help to the developing countries. Climate change denial must come to a halt.
Use of clean technologies and renewable energy should become a priority, Industries must be made to follow the necessary environmental norms as Climate change is a challenge that effects us all. Governments of the world, NGOs, MNCs, IGOs must work together.
As Gandhiji once said “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed .”
In the last 250 years or so since Industrialisation, we have drastically increased global warming, which is contributing to climate change. The Doomsday Clock is only 2 minutes away from midnight. Doomsday Clock “conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making.” These major threats are nuclear weapons and climate change. Speaking about climate change, MIT scientist Susan Solomon said, “if we don’t start reducing emissions in this next decade, it’s pretty clear we’ll have a world we don’t want to live in. This coming decade is absolutely critical, and we’re running out of time.”
So, it is high time that we must come together to face our common challenges. Sustainable development should be our motto, cooperation and sustained efforts are needed, as we have more in our similarities than our differences. As Charlie Chaolin once said: “We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity; more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.”