Dalai Lama gets block of glacial ice

“Water is going to be very precious commodity because of climate change , and as we know water is needed by every living being,” the Dalai Lama said. “And the Tibetan plateau is the source of water for many rivers downstream.”

“I am 87 years old, and this piece of melting ice reminds us that time is running out,” he added.

The Himalaya is known as the ‘Third Pole’ because it is the largest repository of fresh water stored as ice outside of the polar regions. The mountains are warming up to 0.7 Celsius faster than the global average, and if current trends continue, two-thirds of its permanent ice cover will have melted, reducing the flow of rivers that start here. 

Sonam Wangchuk is the developer of the ‘ice stupa’ in Ladakh where he has found a way to freeze water and release its melt in the dry season for irrigation.

Read also: Living below Nepal’s melting mountains, Alton C Byers

“What we do in Ladakh is not going to make a big difference to the planet, but it can serve as an example for others,” says the engineer, educationist and climate activist. “People in Ladakh are suffering from a problem they did not create.”

Wangchuk said the glacier from which his ice block was taken has receded 300m up the mountain in the past 20 years.

“We used to drive across the Khardung La pass in a bridge when it was all ice, now there is an asphalt road,” he said.

He has set up the ‘Live Simply’ initiative to spread the word about consuming less, and switching to renewable energy. He says: “The world has to learn to live simply so that we in the mountains can simply live.”

Read also: The great Himalayan thaw, Ajaya Dixit

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