Saturday, October 24, 2009

When the ice melts

Ear tip to Alexander Ac for pointing out an important article in Nature News. Eli has been on a tear about the consequences of climate change for India, drying up the great rivers upon which it depends for drinking water. Bhutan, located on the periphery of the Himalayas is reaping the reverse of this, with enlarged glacial lakes threatening to flood the countryside when they burst out of their bounds. Anjali Nayar writes

Glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating faster than in any other part of the world and they could disappear completely by 2035 (ref. 1). This puts the mountainous nation of Bhutan at a special risk. In an area smaller than Switzerland, it has 983 glaciers and 2,794 glacial lakes, some of which have burst to produce deadly glacial lake floods

As a poor nation without even its own helicopter, Bhutan lacks the resources to combat global warming. It is carrying out the work at Thorthormi glacier with the help of money from various international donors, including US$3.5 million from the Least Developed Countries Fund, created under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The global cost of adaptation could total hundreds of billions of dollars a year — orders of magnitude more than what is available to poor countries at the moment.
That was only two years ago. Of course if the glaciers disappear then Bhutan has the other problem that agriculture will collapse. Here clearly the legacy of the delayers and the denialists becomes clear. We must adapt now to what we have wrought and it will be at great cost, but we must also start to mitigate, and it ain't gonna be a walk in the park, because what lies ahead if we don't is disaster.

It is vital to recognize that greenhouse gas levels are cumulative, and that ANY action now reduces the danger, even if it does not eliminate it in the future.

The picture is from Tiempo Climate Newswatch


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Here clearly the legacy of the delayers and the denialists becomes clear. "

But, of course, they will never accept responsibility for what they have wrought.

These people NEVER do.

They are like Greenspan, Summers, Bernanke and the others who completely f...ed up our economy and now claim "No one could have known."

If tghere is one thread that binds denialists together (other than worship of Ayn rand, of course) it is that they NEVER ever accept responsibility for their actions.