The melting glacier problem.

A BNA blog posted in December discussed a report released by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) urging countries to increase efforts to combat climate change and cited the rate at which glaciers are melting as the most critical piece of evidence so far to back up its position. UNEP, according to the blog post, said that the different rates of glacial melting, and the fact that some areas are experiencing small expansion of glaciers, underscores the multiple factors at work in determining the rate at which  glaciers melt.

“Without doubt the main driving force behind the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers and formation of the catastrophic glacial lake outburst floods is warming  due to climate change,” said Madhav Karki, Deputy Director General, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, which worked with  UNEP on the report. Most threatening in these changing characteristics are what  the UNEP calls glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) in the Andes and in Asia and the increase in frequency and severity of flooding. While such GLOFs may immediately endanger lives, infrastructure and power supply, flash floods and particularly large-scale down-river floods pose an ever greater challenge and risk, the blog states. “These floods are caused by extreme events of intense and high-volume monsoons or other types of rains that are often exacerbated by unsustainable land use practices killing several thousand people every year directly.

 

Impacting over 100 million people annually, including through loss of crops and eruption of diseases associated with flooding of sewage or contamination of drinking water supplies,” according to the blog.

Water should be recognized as a great priority. One of the main objectives of the World Water Council is to increase awareness of the water issue. Decision-makers at all levels must be implicated. One of the Millenium Development Goals is to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. To that aim, several measures should be taken:

  • guarantee the right to water;
  • decentralise the responsibility for water;
  • develop know-how at the local level;
  • increase and improve financing;
  • evaluate and monitor water resources.

UNEP is proposing several remedies to the problem; among these is including the strengthening of glacial research and trans-national collaboration “with emphasis on mass calculation, monitoring and particularly the effects of glacial recession on water resources, biodiversity and availability downstream, “GreenDustries believes that the rate of glacier deterioration has a direct affect on all levels of our fragile ecosystem. Maintaining biodiversity on the planet means putting forth an effort to understand and mitigate the affects humanity has had on changing natural patterns. Some natural events are meant to be; they follow a natural transgression. Other things – pollution, deforestation and unnecessary killing of species – promote an unstable planet. It is up to all of us to ensure that the planet can continue to sustain every kind of species that has come to call Earth home – and that humanity can live side by side with them.

 

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