Monday, January 19, 2009

Imagine a world where the sea level is rising

And glaciers are disappearing. No drinking water for millions. Welcome to 2035.

Last year the UN environment programme and the WGMS jointly published data for 1,800 glaciers on all seven continents, which warned losses had been accelerating globally since the mid-1980s, so that the annual average decline for 1996-2005 was double that of the previous decade, and four times that of the decade before. Last week China Dialogue, a London-based organisation dedicated to debate on China's environment issues, launched a campaign to highlight the same trends in melting in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau.

Those glaciers feed all the main river systems in Asia, depended on by the estimated 40% of the world's population that lives in northern India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, said Isabel Hilton, China Dialogue's editor.

"In a region that is already fractured and unstable, the melting of the 'third pole' glaciers is one of the most important challenges facing humanity in the 21st century," she said.

In December the US Geological Survey also warned that sea-level rise could be even worse than feared, as much as 1.5 metres by the end of this century, partly due to increased melting of the volume of water stored in glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland.

The Water Wars are upon us.

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