AIZAWL, Sept 13 - Mizoram Governor Lt Gen Nirbhay Sharma (Retd) today expressed concern over the melting of Himalayan glaciers.“Himalayas are the largest body of snow in our planet after the Arctic and Antarctic, and sometimes is referred to as the Third Pole. While the melting of snow in the Arctic and Antarctic is frequently reported, that of Himalayan glaciers goes largely unreported even though more people are affected,” Sharma said, while inaugurating a three-day media workshop on climate change here today.
The media workshop on climate change reporting on the Himalayas is being organised by Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP) of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Centre for Media Studies and Mizoram State Climate Change Cell, Mizoram Science, Technology and Innovation Council.
The Governor mentioned that glacial runoff in the Himalayas is the largest source of water in northern India and provides most of the water to the Ganga. “The water from the Himalayan glaciers feeds nearly 30 per cent of the world’s population,” he said.
Quoting the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s report, Sharma said, “Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps getting warmer at the current rate.”
He pointed out that the Gangotri glacier, the source of the Ganga, is receding at 20-23 miles per year. According to the IPCC report, the total area of glaciers in the Himalaya will shrink from 19,30,051 square miles to 38,000 square miles by 2035. “These figures are alarming and more or less paint a doomsday scenario,” he said.
He said that the issue of climate change often goes unmentioned in the wake of environmental-related crisis such as droughts and hurricanes.
He also talked of incidents of environmental issues being dragged into international politics when China recently not shared hydrological data with India due to Doklam stand-off. “This coincided with the torrential downpour in the eastern part of the country, including the North East, Bihar and UP. “Climate change, experts say, is the main reason behind the floods and changing rainfall pattern in the North East,” he said.
In the context of Mizoram, Sharma said data shows a warming trend with increase in mean and maximum temperature over the last 10 years. The State also experiences frequent occurrence of storms during March and April.
“In Mizoram, erratic nature in weather has been increasing during the past few years, distribution of rainfall becomes unpredictable, peak monsoon season has shifted back and forth. Frequent floods have been observed, and there has been a steady rise in temperature as well.”
“Changes in rainfall have already started affecting agricultural practices and availability of domestic water supply,” he said.
To fight against climate change, the Governor stressed the need for urgent shift towards renewable sources of energy, and also a focus on disaster management.
The objective of the workshop is to trigger sustained interest in climate change, sustainability and livelihood issues among journalists, editors and media houses in the region.
Many senior experts and policymakers participated in the workshops and interacted with journalists. The workshop will include a field trip to facilitate ground-level reportage on climate change adaptation.