The Ganges– River in Peril

Glaciers near K2 in the People's Republic of C...

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Looming global warming crisis will threaten millions

Jules Verne once wrote: “the Ganges, according to the legends of the Ramayana, rises in heaven, whence, owing to Brahma‘s agency, it descends to the earth.”

Hindus believe life is incomplete without bathing in the Ganges at least once.

Enter global warming; scientists and meteorologists have confirmed that the Himalayan source of Hinduism’s holiest river, the Ganges, is drying up. That’s right, recent reports by scientists say the Ganges is under tremendous pressure from global warming. The Gangotri glacier, which provides up to 70 percent of the water of the Ganges during the dry summer months, is shrinking at a rate of 40 yards a year, nearly twice as fast as two decades ago. According to a U.N. climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that are the sources of the Ganges could disappear by 2030 as temperatures rise.

This is a ticking time bomb! The World Wildlife Fund already lists the Ganges among the world’s 10 most endangered rivers. The Ganges and its tributaries drain a large and fertile basin that supports one of the world’s highest density human populations. The river provides more than 500 million people with water for drinking and farming. The supply is dwindling and experts predict that the Ganges will become a seasonal river, largely dependent on monsoon rains.

Mass starvation and refugees, or resource wars, in a region already considered a dangerous nuclear flashpoint has the potential to become a disaster of epic proportions. Even so, the position of the Indian government has predictably been short-sighted. Eager to protect economic growth, India, like the US, refuses to support mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions. They argue that the US should reduce their own emissions before expecting developing nations to do so. The US in turn argues that it won’t sign on to any real regulations until China and India do. And round and round they go…convenient.

Maybe when the Ganges dries up they will think differently? By then it will be too late.

 

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