The melting glaciers in the Himalayas have brought fear into the international arena as Cold War spy-satellite images have recently surfaced. The American scientists who studied the data have stated that the “glaciers are melting about twice as fast as they used to”. According to the American academic journal, ‘Science Advances’, which was recently published on the 19 June, the Asian mountain range has been melting at a rate of 1% annually since 2000. These statistics have created a very negative picture of what the future of Earth will look like, especially in relation to national security and world peace.
The lead author of the study, Josh Maurer, a researcher at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, stated that “the amount of ice [lost] is scary but what is much more scary is the doubling of the melt rate”. According to SBS, the Himalayas is known as the “The Third Pole” due to its significant amount of ice. However, there is only 72% of the ice that was originally there in 1975. Therefore, due to these statistics, it is losing approximately 7.5 billion metric tonnes of ice annually; whereas between 1975-2000, only 3.9 billion metric tonnes were lost.
Mauer stated that the glaciers in the Himalayas do not significantly add to the sea level rise as it is dwarfed by the melting ice from Greenland and Antarctica. However, according to co-author of the science journal, Jorg Schaefer, this will still have serious consequences on environmental and national security as the ice loss disrupts water supplies. This includes surges and shortages that will impact the millions of civilians who utilize water for power, food and drinking. Therefore, for Shaefer, a “disaster is in the making,” in the Himalayas.
Originally, academia lacked significant statistics on the melting glaciers in the Himalayas. Nonetheless, Maurer uncovered originally classified 3D photographs from American intelligence. This enabled him to work out historical data from 1975, which he could then compare to recent statistics. Thus, this recent study created a large-scale view of the melting glaciers, which will greatly aid the science on climate change.
There has been past uncertainty around the causes of the melting ice, for instance sciences suspected pollution or inconsistent rainfall might have an impact. Though, Schaefer stated that “it is clear it is temperature and everything else does not matter as much,”. This study confirming that greenhouse gases and rising temperatures are in fact very serious issues.
Overall, the melting glaciers and its predicted impact on civilians is a serious concern for environmental security. The main issue surrounding environmental insecurity is its direct impact on national security. When there are erratic weather and climate changes, people may find themselves living in an unsafe environment, which is facing ongoing drought or flooding. This may also cause an influx of climate refugees if the situation does not improve. This is a crucial time for governments to act on climate change—especially as scientists can predict the harsh reality of where the Earth is headed due to rising temperatures.
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