Monday, June 18, 2007

Vanishing Glaciers, Receding Rivers

Global warming is quickly shifting from something that people can pretend isn't happening to something that intrudes dramatically on everyday life. The Himalayan glaciers that are the source of the Ganges River may disappear by 2030, turning the Ganges into a seasonal river.

As reported by Emily Wax in The Washington Post, and reposted at, short-term economic interests are taking precedence over long-term environmental concerns.

"There has never been a greater threat for the Ganges," said Mahesh Mehta, an environmental lawyer who has been filing lawsuits against corporations dumping toxins in the Ganges. He is now redirecting his energies toward the melting glaciers. "If humans don't change their interference, our very religion, our livelihoods are under threat."

Mehta and other environmentalists want to see the Indian government here enforce strict reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, the primary cause of climate change.

But during this month's Group of Eight conference of the major industrialized nations, both India and China, eager to protect their market growth, joined the United States in refusing to support mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions. President Bush has instead pushed a plan for nonbinding goals to reduce emissions.

"It is a fact that more and not less development is the best way for developing countries to address themselves to the issues of preserving the environment," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a public statement before leaving for the G-8 summit in Germany.

While India is one of the world's top producers of greenhouse gas emissions - along with the United States, China, Russia and Japan - it argues that the United States and other developed countries should reduce their own emissions before expecting developing nations to follow suit.

Short-sighted politicians and unimaginative government officials still don't seem to understand that market growth will be a distant memory if global warming continues to transform the world in powerful ways.