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Protecting the world's highest peak Mt. Qomolangma

08-07-2013 13:55 BJT Special Report: Inside Tibet |

By CCTV reporter Zhang Nini

Glaciers in Mt Qomolangma is melting faster, baring mountains and raising water level downstream. While global warming could an arguable cause, increased human activities is believed to a contributing factor.

The highest point on earth. For decades, Mt. Qomolangma has inspired humanity and its desire to always reach for the top. Hundreds have set their footprints along the North Slope, with thousands more leaving their mark downhill. To understand the impact of climate change, one must travel to the Rongbuk Monastery, 10 kilometers away from the base camp, and by the Rongbuk River.

Experts have noticed the rising snow line and retreating glaciers in recent years. One of the clear indicator is this Rongbuk River, at the foot of Mount Qomolangma. Not only the water level is rising, the river also gets polluted as well.

Having been here for over thirty years, Ngawang Gongag points out the changes he’s seen.

"When I first came here in the 1970s, a lot more mountains were covered in ice and snow. Now I can only see the snow on some peaks, the rest of the slopes are yellow and black crags," said Ngawang Gongag, monk at Rongbuk Monastery.

Recent studies show that glaciers on the Tibetan plateau have receded by at least 6,600 square kilometers in the past four decades. Glaciers are retreating the fastest in the area around Mt. Qomolangma, at an annual rate of 10-15 meters.

Increasing water levels are one of the short-term effects. But in the long-run, the source of many rivers will dry up as ice and snow reserves begin to thin out. Llakpa Tsering believes two factors are causing this.

"I think global warming and the surge in tourist numbers are causing the snow to melt faster. Before there were only one thousand tourists a year, now it’s one thousand every day," said Llakpa Tsering, director of QNNP, Tingri area.

The increasing numbers of tourists have put a strain on the natural environment, leaving behind garbage, which on some days could be 60 truckloads. China launched a campaign to clean up the area in 2009, forbidding private vehicles from driving directly to the base camp. But as more tourists keep pouring in, it’s going to be a long-term mission.
"We have installed several garbage bins downhill, and all garbage below 6,500 is transported on yaks. We have also barred private vehicles, and are using four eco-friendly buses," Llakpa Tsering said.

On top of the practical measures, Tsering says what is truly needed is a mindset among tourists that respects nature with a sense of environmental responsibility.

 

Editor:James |Source: CCTV.com

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