by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

impacts of climate change

A series of articles by Bund/Friends of the Earth Germany - 1st published in Frankfurter Rundschau

Climate Change in Nepal

Nepal's vast changes in altitude over a comparatively small area make the country particularly susceptible to climate change. The lowest point in Nepal is 60 meters, while the highest is 8848 meters, and the climate varies dramatically from tropical to alpine.

cc_nepal_1.jpg Nepal's annual average temperature has risen by 0.06 degrees Celsius, and three snow-fed rivers have already shown signs of reduced flows. But the temperature in the Himalayas is increasing twice as fast, which is having serious impact on glaciers and glacial lakes.

The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers is increasing the volume of water in glacial lakes. When these lakes become too full, they threaten to burst in torrential floods, called glacial lake outburst floods. These events cause extensive damage to roads, bridges, trekking trails, and villages, and people have also been killed by these events. At least 12 of these glacial lake outburst flows have been reported to date, and with continued regional warming, these events are likely become more common.

  Twenty of Nepal's 2,300 glacial lakes are identified as potentially dangerous for glacial lake outburst floods. But among these lakes, only one has mitigation measures in place.

In a few decades, when the glaciers have melted, water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive economic and environmental problems for people in Western China, Nepal, and Northern India.

Sagarmatha National Park

Sagarmatha National Park is dominated by Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. The park is an area of exceptional natural beauty with dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys, and it has been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. But climate change seriously threatens the park's glaciers and its ecosystems.

Currently in the Himalayas, 67 percent of glaciers are rapidly retreating. The Rika Samba in the Dhaulagiri region is retreating at a rate of 10 meters per year. This is very unusual as glacial movement is usually measured in millimeters.

cc_nepal_3.jpg This glacial melting will eventually leave Sagarmatha National Park snowless, and will destroy the habitats of the endangered species in the park, such as the Snow Leopard and the Lesser Panda.

Friends of the Earth-Nepal has filed a claim at the United Nations to request the inclusion of Sagarmatha National Park in the list of world heritage in danger as a result of climate change and to ask for protective measures and action.

Nepal's share in the global emission of greenhouse gases is almost nothing, but the consequences of global warming and climate change threaten to wash away vast areas of the country, including the region that is home to Mount Everest.


The Need for Action

It is imperative that actions are taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions around the world so that there is some chance of limiting the most severe impacts of global warming, like the loss of sacred places like Mount Everest.

Action must be taken by the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, such as the Group of 8 (G8) countries. These countries represent just 13 per cent of the world's population, but account for 45 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.


It is also important to get developing countries like Nepal on clean, renewable energy paths. There are clean alternatives to fossil fuels for power generation and energy, such as wind power, solar power, small hydropower, and biofuels, which should be fully explored as options for developing countries.


There is also a need to prepare people for the impacts of climate change that are already occurring. In Nepal, climate change is going to seriously impact the country's water resources. Action is needed to help people understand what climate change means and to protect the poorest people from its effects.

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