December 14, 2009
   Posted in News Flash
Published By Tashi

Report on ‘The Impacts of Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau’ released Friday, 11 December 2009, 5:09 p.m.

Mr Tenzin Norbu, (2nd from right) head of the Environment and Development Desk of the Central Tibetan Administration, during the launch of a report on the impacts of climate change on the Tibetan plateau, in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 10 December 2009

Copenhagen: The
Environment and Development Desk of the Central Tibetan Administration
has released a report on ‘The Impacts of Climate Change on the Tibetan
Plateau: A Synthesis of Recent Science And Tibetan Research’ in
Copenhagen, Denmark, on 10 December 2009.Following is the report’s full text:

The Impacts of Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau: A Synthesis of Recent Science And Tibetan Research

   Environment and Development DeskDepartment of Information and International              Relations (DIIR)       Central Tibetan Administration          Dharamshala – 176215                H.P. INDIA Tel: +91-1892-222457, 222510, 224662         Fax: +91 – 1892-224957         E-mail:          Website:

report is the first by Tibetan scientists and social scientists to
comprehensively survey the full range of scientific findings on all
aspects of climate change on the Tibetan Plateau. This
synthesis report summarises over 150 recent research reports published
in scientific journals, by Chinese and international scientists, all
fully referenced.Tibet is in trouble, as climate change is now
happening faster than in many areas, with multiple impacts on human
livelihoods, rangeland degradation, desertification, loss of glaciers
and more, all detailed here. Trouble in Tibet means trouble downstream
and downwind from Tibet, across Asia, where Tibetan rivers flow and
Tibetan climate generates and regulates monsoon rains over Asia.The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rightly treats Tibet
separately, since the plateau is close to two per cent of the land
surface of our planet; and is a huge island in the sky, between four
and eight kilometres above sea level, exerting a profound impact on
Asia, even on the north Pacific. So the science says.      These
are good reasons for Tibet, until now a net sequester of carbon, to
attract worldwide attention. Though cold, Tibet also heats quickly in
spring and summer, diverting the jet stream, establishing an intense
low that draws monsoon clouds deep inland, into the heart of Eurasia.
The Tibetan climate is alpine and desiccating, yet in places also humid
and even subtropical where the Indian monsoon penetrates the mighty
Himalayas. For all these reasons, the glaciers, snow peaks, innumerable
rivers, lakes, forests and wetlands of Tibet have long provided major
environmental services to Asia, from Pakistan to Vietnam to northern
China. Tibetans did almost nothing to diminish those environmental
services. There was almost no Tibetan industrialisation, damming of
rivers, draining of wetlands, fishing, or hunting of wildlife. Tibet
remained unfenced; its grasslands intact, its cold climate able to hold
enormous amounts of organic carbon in the soil. The human population
used land extensively and lightly, a mobile culture with its domestic
herds and a deep knowledge of how to sustain the grasslands with a
light touch, by moving on to allow the hardy grasses and sedges of the
alpine meadows to regrow.      In recent years every one of
these services has been damaged, so much so that Tibet is fast moving
from being a net sequester of carbon to becoming a net emitter. In part
this is due to the climate change that affects the whole planet, though
the data available suggests it is happening faster in Tibet. Much of
the damage is due to direct human interventions in Tibet, which now
concentrate population in towns and cities, transport hubs and
corridors, even concentrating nomads in settlements, their remaining
animals fenced in, unable to move far. Millions of non-Tibetan settlers
have moved in, supported by an energy-intensive importation of modern
luxuries and basics which Tibetans had little use for. Huge areas of
forest were cut for export to China; dozens of destructive, unregulated
artisanal gold mines scarred the Tibetan earth and rivers, and now
large scale industrial mining of copper, gold, chromite, oil and gas
extract Tibetan resources for Chinese industry. The damming of Tibetan
rivers, commercial fishing of Tibetan lakes, draining of wetlands,
introduction of invasive alien species all compromise Tibet’s ability
to remain a carbon sink.
(click here for full report)

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