Climate change is something very near and dear to this American-Nepali household. Climate change and glacier melt in the Himalayas is a large part of P’s doctoral work. Over the summer we trekked up into the Everest region so that P could make contacts with local people, researchers and officials. We even randomly happened upon a climate change awareness festival in the shadows of the high peaks.
This morning, BBC featured an article on a pre-Copenhagen Nepali cabinet meeting on climate change awareness. The Maldives held a similar meeting not too long ago, and chose to hold it underwater to highlight the very real danger of rising sea levels and the threat to low lying island nations. In turn, the Nepali meeting was held at Mt. Everest base camp to highlight the temperature increases in the mountain region and the threat to glaciers which are important to the waterways of Asia.
I wanted to relay the article. You can see it in its original format HERE.
Nepalese ministers have held the world’s highest cabinet meeting on Mount Everest, to raise awareness of the effects of climate change.
The ministers signed a declaration on climate change during the meeting, which comes before the Copenhagen climate summit starts next week.
PM Madhav Kumar Nepal told the BBC the Himalayas were “a global treasure” that needed to be protected.
Studies show temperatures rising faster there than in the rest of South Asia.
The studies show the rise has led to a reduced snowfall over the mountains and has caused glaciers to melt.
The entire cabinet of 21 ministers travelled in a fleet of helicopters to Kalipatar – a plateau at 5,200m (17,000ft) next to Everest’s base camp.
Medical equipment, oxygen canisters, soldiers and journalists had already been ferried to the site.
During their half-hour meeting, the ministers – some wearing oxygen masks to help them breathe in the thin air – endorsed a resolution on climate change, which they called the Shara Matar – Top of the World – Declaration.
“We wanted to stress one point: that the Himalayas are a global treasure,” Mr Nepal told the BBC.
“They are the water towers of Asia, feeding its largest rivers and nourishing hundreds of millions of people downstream.”
Nawang Tenge, a Buddhist monk waiting to greet the minsters on their return, said the meeting gave him hope for the development of the region.
“For us, nature is God. But we are not treating our God fairly and that is why we are facing problems,” he told the AFP news agency.
“Last year, there was no rain or snow here and the temperatures go up with every passing year.”
Mingma, a 47-year-old inn keeper, said he was glad the government was “taking initiatives before it is too late”.
“Usually authorities tend to act only after accidents. We are now hopeful that something might be done,” he told the AP news agency.
Mr Nepal said the mountain range played “an important role in global atmospheric circulation and a centre for unique biodiversity”.
“The lofty peaks and mighty rivers have inspired civilisations and supported a mosaic of cultural diversity and because of that we need to preserve Mount Everest, the mountains and all those places downstream,” he said.
The trip was funded by a group of Nepalese private organisations, many of them from the tourist sector.
Environment Minister Thakur Prasad Sharma shrugged off criticism that the meeting was just a costly publicity stunt.
“The fact is that the glaciers are melting due to global warming. That has become a critical issue and we want to draw global attention to it,” Mr Sharma told AFP.
Mount Everest is the highest point on earth, with a summit 29,035 ft (8,850 m) above sea level.
The cabinet meeting comes after the government of the Maldives – the world’s lowest-lying country – held an underwater cabinet meeting in October to highlight the threat to their territory from rising sea levels.