Vanishing Ice – Asia Running Dry?
by China Water Risk 12 November, 2015
Glaciers in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region feed 10 major rivers that provide water to 17 countries in Asia. They are vanishing. Obsessed with their rapid decline CWR’s Tan and award-winning explorer Jeff Fuchs undertook a month-long quest to live upon two of the India Himalayas’ great stalwarts of ice – the Bara Shigri and the Lasermo Glacier. Tan and Fuchs recount their journey and their worry over the lack of cohesive action to tackle real threats. At the same time, glacial streams are being tapped across Asia by the bottled water industry. In Tibet alone a 52x growth is expected. But actions like these are at odds with President Xi’s wish for an ‘ecological civilisation’. We take a closer look at who’s bottling where. Should more be done to align climate change policies and water conservation? We know choosing the right power type matters for climate and water. More coal could lead to faster glacial melt and more megadams could lead to increased geopolitical tensions. But what small hydro – can it help? We talked to the Director General of the International Centre of Small Hydropower. Prof. Dr. Liu Heng makes it clear that small hydropower will play a role in China’s energy mix. Meanwhile, Fu, Zhong & Wang of WRI share key findings from the WRI-CWR study on managing water stress for coal & economic development in Ningxia. Future energy choices made today impact our water and food for tomorrow. On this front, we are pleased to see the recently announced collaboration between China’s NEA & IRENA – renewables can help reduce both water use & carbon emissions. We need to choose wisely – parts of Asia running dry may not be too far fetched – as Prof. Vivian Forbes at Wuhan University shares, the mouth of China’s Yellow River has changed many times over the centuries. Prosperity along the coast depends on what happens in the mountains. Rivers that start there are the lifelines of Asia – let’s make sure they flow eternal.
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