April 13, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Scientists call for action to save Earth’s snow and ice

The Nepal Weekly
October 3, 2023

With scientists worldwide warning of the catastrophic global impacts of this year’s record-breaking losses of snow and ice experts representing one of the world’s most climate vulnerable regions gathered at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), headquartered in Kathmandu to call for an urgent acceleration of climate action.

“The total and irreversible loss of mountain glaciers around the world is about to be locked-in unless immediate action is taken,” observed James Kirkham, Chief Scientific Adviser to the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative delivering a speech on Thursday.

The summit organized by ICIMOD and Ministry of Forest and Environment, Nepal was attended by ministers, diplomats, senior policy-makers and experts from the eight-nation Hindu Kush Himalayan region and beyond.

“The science is unequivocal,” remarked Pema Gyamtsho, Director General of ICIMOD, according to a press release issued by ICIMOD. “We have to act now to prevent the Earth from spiraling towards a state beyond which it can no longer sustain life. With two billion people relying on waters held in these mountains for their food and water security, all of us have a huge humanitarian weight on our shoulders at this moment.”

“The consequences of this and the catastrophic losses of ice in the Arctic and the Antarctic should alarm the world,” Kirkham noted. “It will destabilize the climate system that has kept Earth habitable for millennia and result in large parts of Dhaka, Mumbai, Karachi and Shanghai being underwater if current increases in emissions continue,” Bangladesh alone, Kirkham said, would as soon as 2050 see 18 million refugees as a result of sea level rise.

ICIMOD’s Climate and Cryosphere Crisis forum took place as senior cryosphere scientists from the Ambition on Melting Ice High-Level Group on Sea-level Rise and Mountain Water Resources (AMI) urged world leaders at the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit to make cuts in line with the 1.5ºC Paris Agreement. The upper threshold, of 2ºC of warming, would unleash “catastrophic” changes, AMI argues, and called for it to be taken “off the table.”

Inaugurating the event, Nepal’s Minister of Forests and Environment, Birendra Prasad Mahato said, “The Government of Nepal has prioritised cooperation with its neighbours on issues related to climate change, environmental degradation, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity conservation and socio-economic improvements.”