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The impact of climate change on mountains.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) recently released its assessment report on climate change. The report says that the situation is critical and that we need to act now to avoid the worst.

The impacts of the climate crisis will be broad. They will provoke and amplify inequalities worldwide.

One of the report chapters is about the situation in the mountain regions. In India, the Himalayan Range and its population will be affected by climate change. We can already observe some changes in the area. What are those impacts now, and what will they be in the future? How can we react to it to protect our mountain's environment?

Present changes and impacts in the mountains.

We can observe many impacts on the mountain ecosystems around the world. The temperatures increase, and the seasonal patterns change. The snow cover is smaller than it used to be and lasts for a shorter period. The glaciers lose their mass, the permafrost melts, and the glacier lakes are more numerous and large than before.

These changes impact flora and fauna in the mountains. In fact, some plant and animal species have already shifted to regions of higher elevation, creating more similar ecosystems. It is also a threat to the species usually found in high altitudes.

The water cycle of the mountains is also negatively affected. It impacts the water availability for the people and their economy. On that subject, the IPCC's report says that there are now two billion people largely or entirely dependent on water from the mountains compared to around 0,6 billion in 1960. We can also read that there is now 2/3 of the agriculture irrigation depending on the mountain's water.

Agriculture is also negatively affected because it is more exposed to climate hazards such as floods or droughts.

Those changes affect the most vulnerable populations around the world. In India, the people living in the villages near the Himalayan Range are directly affected by the changes mentioned above. They are primarily reliant on local agriculture and mountain water and are the first ones impacted by climate hazards.

There are presently some adaptations in place to prevent or limit the climate change impacts on the population, but it is not enough. The present adaptation response mainly focuses on warning systems and diversification of agriculture and tourism. Still, the IPCC affirms that these measures have low feasibility and long-term effectiveness.

Since the adaptation strategies are not enough, the impacts of climate changes in the mountain regions are likely to increase.

Projected impacts, risks, and adaptations in the mountain region.

If the temperatures keep rising and pass the 1,5 degrees of GWL (global warming level), the present impacts will be at risk of causing bigger and irreversible damages.

Here, the IPCC's report points towards loss of glacier mass, higher chances of species extinctions due to warmer habitats, and projected high risk of water hazards such as floods and landslides.

All of those can cause problematic water supply and increase food insecurities. They will lead to consequences for people, economy, and infrastructure. These damages will be seen especially in South and Central Asia and northwestern South America.

There is an urgent need to adapt and create new ways of development in the mountain regions if we want to avoid the consequences of climate change.

Possible adaptations in the mountains.

Since the impacts of climate change in the mountainous regions will affect the vulnerable and local populations, the actions need to address the roots of the problem. The government and society need to understand why people are in a position of vulnerability. The reasons include poverty, marginalization (exclusion of a group from social activities), and uneven dynamics between men and women.

The actions also need to be global. They should tend towards a profound social change leading to equality. We need to consider the will, concerns, and values of the population that will be mainly impacted.

The population will be better positioned to react to climate change if they have cooperation systems and a solid network of people around them.

The government and the population can update some of their methods to make them more sustainable. Agriculture can be modernized to be biological and to restore the lands. We can also create reserves and restore natural habitats to conserve flora and fauna. Projects of water harvesting or disaster risk management are also possible.

A majority of adaptations pass through global education and the creation of a will to work together. Once people are aware of their environment and the importance of its protection, it will be easier to make the changes and have a positive impact.

At Japam, one of our goals is to bring educative resources and awareness towards our environment conservation. We want to actively participate in protecting our ecosystems, especially in the mountains.

We do our best to provide treks that are environmentally conscious. We minimize our impact by limiting the number of people in the groups and carrying a minimal amount of waste, which we always bring out with us.

Some projects will come in the future. Keep following us to be the first to know.

We also have one trek to Gaumukh Tapovan departing on May 25th, 2022. You are most welcome to join us if interested.


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