Everest’s glaciers shrink, wash away Nepal

13 01 2008

this story from the UK Independent reveals what global warming means for the Himalayas, and at the end notes that the new British government of Gordon Brown is signaling its distance from the Bush junta by hiring environmental advisors who were on the neocons’ purge list.

A United Nations study of the 9,000 glacial lakes in the Himalayas found that more than 200 are at risk of “outburst floods”, unleashing thousands of cubic metres of water per second into an area where 40,000 people live. In 1985, Lake Dig Tsho in the Everest region released 10 million cubic metres of water in three hours. It caused a 10-metre-high wall of water which swept away a power station, bridges, farmland, houses, livestock and people up to 55 miles downstream. Scientists estimate that the most dangerous lakes today are up to 20 times bigger. One of those, Imja Tsho, did not exist 50 years ago and lies directly above the homes of 10,000 people.

The worst-case scenario according to Nepalese scientists is a cascade effect whereby one overflowing lake empties into another, starting a chain reaction which would kill thousands and wipe out agriculture for generations.

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