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December 15, 2009
Tibetan plateau experiences ill effects of climate change

The Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations has been extensively covering China’s environmental shift for the China Green multimedia project.

Worldfocus has selected four multimedia pieces from the Tibetan Plateau in Peril series that address climate change in Tibet, where glacial melting threatens to diminish the water supply for all of Asia — leading to potentially disastrous consequences for almost half the world’s population.

The plateau feeds most of the major river systems from China to Pakistan, including the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Brahmaputra, Ganges and Indus. But the rapid retreat of its glaciers has jeopardized what glaciologist Lonnie Thompson has termed Asia’s “fresh water bank account.”

Rivers and lakes have depleting water levels, pastures are becoming drier, deserts are expanding and weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable. The Tibetan Plateau’s ecosystem are moving toward an environmental catastrophe that will have continental implications far beyond Tibet.

Watch Origins of Rivers: Omens of a Crisis:

An ancient Chinese proverb: When you drink the water, think about its source. Signs of water scarcity in the Yellow River watershed can be seen all the way back to its origin in Qinghai, where glaciers melt on the slopes of the sacred Tibetan mountain Anyemaqen.

The warming climate has endangered the human habitat in this area of the Tibetan Plateau. And hundreds of millions of people at lower altitudes in northern China are threatened by the Yellow River’s demise.

Read more about the Tibetan Plateau by Michael Zhao in the Far Eastern Economic Review and World Policy Journal, and watch Less Blessed: Anyemaqen, Glaciers and the Yellow River:

The next piece is a bleak visual tour of some of the world’s highest glaciers in the Himalayas: at the foot of Mt. Everest, in eastern Qinghai province and in the Tianshan Mountains of Xinjiang province.

See what these giant ice sheets looked like decades ago and how much they have thinned down. The alarming images document lakes expanding due to accelerated glacial meltdown and also lakes shrinking due to desertification at lower altitudes.

Watch On Thinner Ice: Disappearing Glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau (Part I):

In the fall of 2007 and again in 2008, David Breashears traveled to the Chinese face of Mt. Everest, a mountain he has climbed five times. His goal was not to scale the peak but to see series of ledges and outcroppings on Everest’s western side.

Breashears brought photos taken in a 1921 expedition to survey Everest. Returning to the exact same locations, Breashears recreated the photos — pixel for pixel.

Watch On Thinner Ice: Everest’s Vanishing Glaciers:

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4 comments

#4

[…] thrive in China’s second-tier cities In pursuit of 8% growth, China wields double-edged swordTibetan plateau experiences ill effects of climate changeObama and the World: China U.S. auto industry struggles to regain its global statureU.S. lagging […]

#3

15,000 years ago New York City had 2 miles of ice upon it. The oceans were 400 feet lower. Then it got warmer. It has been getting warmer ever since. The problem is that it is not if Chicago get 6 feet of snow this winter, the problem is that if if it does not. Look at Greenland wher the warm summer has cause rapid melting of not only of the snow along the coasts, but its melting of the glacers. The perforst in Canada, Alaska, Russia, is also getting thin.The snow caps of mountains around the globe are getting thin.
Those religious people will say that only God can effect the climite on this planet and that man can not do it. I will agreed with them that God is melting the glacers and riseing the level of the ocean. He along will bring his full wrath upon those who have turned this bule/green planet in a ball of brown mud. If the humans are that stupid to burn down the forests, kill all of other spieces and increase his population to beyound the planets ability feed them. Then it is God that will erase the Human species once and for all. Remember that humans can not live with large amonts of CO2. When CO2 replaces O2 humans die.

#2

As I write this both the US and the English have had record snow storms. Europe is buried under snow and Global warming is at fault for Global cold and Global lack of rain. Hasn’t it occurred to anybody that perhaps Global warming is a fraud. Go to ClimateAudit.org and read the facts behing the UN report by Mann and company. After a small rise from record lows in the 1970’s the present temperature is going down. Just read the facts for yourself, you will need a begining statistical text to define some terms but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the lies.

#1

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