The winter of 2004-2005 delivered heavy snowfall throughout Asia’s Himalaya Mountains, and regional glaciers are at or beyond their customary reach, according to the March 13 issue of Insurance Digest.
That’s good news for area farmers, who rely on summer snowmelt to water their crops, but bad news for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Cable News Network (CNN), whose credibility has been directly challenged by the snowfall data.
On March 14, just one day after Insurance Digest reported on the abundance of snow and glacier fields in the Himalayas, WWF issued a “news article” claiming “Himalayan glaciers are among the fastest retreating glaciers globally due to the effects of global warming.” CNN and the Reuters news agency, in a remarkable departure from objective journalism, ignored the Insurance Digest report and issued an alarmist news article that mirrored the WWF news release virtually word for word.
Below are the Insurance Digest, WWF, and CNN articles on Himalayan glaciers. Are activist groups and their media allies reporting the truth about global warming, or is truth being trampled in the rush to coerce public opinion? You be the judge.
— James M. Taylor
FACT: Heavy Snowfall Augurs Well for India’s Shrinking Glaciers and Snow-Fed Rivers
Insurance Digest Staff report
March 13, 2005
There’s good news for the geologists and the environmental scientists who have been craving to assuage their anxieties over shrinking of glaciers and drying up of snow-fed rivers. Heavy snows in the higher regions of Himachal Pradesh this year have rejuvenated them all.
The snowfall has given a fresh lease of life to both perennial and seasonal glaciers in the region. Snow deposits have been recorded maximum in the mountain ranges of Kinnaur, Lahaul Spiti, Chamba, Kangra, and Shimla districts. The region has received its heaviest snowfall in over two decades this year.
The environmentalists had been alarmed earlier at the melting of tropical glaciers due to global warming, fearing a major climactic imbalance in nature. This year’s snowfall would again load the glaciers with snow to their respite.
“The raw material for the glacier formation is snow. When there’s a snowfall, the snow changes form many a time. It forms glaciers, too, which are very much beneficial for us. Heavy snowfall creates a balance in nature. This year’s snowfall is really a good sign, both for our environment and in solving the water problem,” said Jampa Negi, an environmentalist and a mountaineer.
The heavy snowfall is also fortuitous for the rivers, especially snow-fed ones which will have abundant water during summers when the snow melts, which in turn shall boost [hydro]-power generation.
“Heavy snowfall is very beneficial. The snow-fed rivers are replete with water as more of water is discharged. At the onset of summers, the snow starts melting,” said J K Sharma, general manager, Nathpa-Jhakari Hydel Power Project.
The snow has also lent some happiness to farmers in the state who are anticipating a good yield with abundant water to enhance their crop quality.
“It is really beneficial for our crops. We’ll have good fruit yield. Rivers will have water. Our cattle will also have good fodder,” said Sohan Lal, a farmer.
Himachal certainly has a lot of bounties to celebrate this year with the snow streaming in like a fresh [whiff] of breath!
FICTION: Water Crisis Looms as Himalayan Glaciers Retreat
WWF News Article
March 14, 2005
GLAND, Switzerland–Himalayan glaciers are among the fastest retreating glaciers globally due to the effects of global warming, and this will eventually result in water shortages for hundreds of millions of people who rely on glacier-dependent rivers in China, India, and Nepal, warns WWF, the global conservation organization.
A new WWF report–An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China–reveals the rate of retreat of Himalayan glaciers accelerating as global warming increases. The report states that glaciers in the region are now receding at an average rate of 10-15 metres per year.
“The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of water in rivers, causing widespread flooding,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF’s Global Climate Change Programme. “But in a few decades this situation will change and the water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive economic and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal, and northern India.”
Himalayan glaciers feed into seven of Asia’s greatest rivers (the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze, and Huange He), ensuring a year-round water supply to hundreds of millions of people in the Indian subcontinent and China. As glacier water flows dwindle, the energy potential of hydroelectric power will decrease, causing problems for industry, while reduced irrigation means lower crop production.
Nepal has an annual average temperature rise of 0.06ºC per year. The report shows that three of Nepal’s snow-fed rivers have shown declining trends in discharge. In China, the report shows that Qinhai Plateau’s wetlands have seen declining lake water levels, lake shrinkage, the absence of water flow in rivers and streams, and the degradation of swamp wetlands. In India, the Gangotri glacier, which supports one of India’s largest river basins, is receding at an average rate of 23 metres per year.
The report is released on the eve of a two-day ministerial roundtable of the 20 largest energy-using economies in the world, including China and India, followed by a G8 meeting of development and environment ministers focusing on climate change and on Africa. Both meetings are hosted by the UK government in London from March 15-18. WWF has sent a letter to participating ministers, stressing the need to recognize climate change as an issue that seriously threatens security and development prospects.
“Ministers should realize now that the world faces an economic and development catastrophe if the rate of global warming isn’t reduced,” said Jennifer Morgan. “They need to work together on reducing CO2 emissions, increasing the use of renewable energy, and implementing energy efficiency measures.”
FICTION: Group: Himalayan Glaciers Receding Fast
CNN News article
Monday, March 14, 2005 Posted: 5:03 PM EST (2203 GMT)
GENEVA, Switzerland (Reuters) — Himalayan glaciers are receding at among the fastest rates in the world due to global warming, threatening water shortages for millions of people in China, India, and Nepal, a leading conservation group said on Monday.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in a new study that Himalayan glaciers were receding 10-15 meters per year on average and that the rate was accelerating as global warming increases.
In India, the Gangotri glacier is receding at an average rate of 23 meters per year, the study said.
“Himalayan glaciers are among the fastest retreating glaciers globally due to the effects of global warming,” the WWF said in a statement.
“This will eventually result in water shortages for hundreds of millions of people who rely on glacier-dependent rivers in China, India, and Nepal,” it said.
“The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of water in rivers, causing widespread flooding,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of the WWF’s global climate change program.
“But in a few decades this situation will change and the water levels in rivers will decline, meaning massive economic and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal, and Northern India,” she said.
WWF released the study before a two-day ministerial roundtable in London this week of the 20 greatest energy-consuming countries, to be followed by a G8 meeting focusing on climate change in Africa.
Himalayan glaciers feed into seven of Asia’s greatest rivers, the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Huange He.
The glaciers ensure a year-round supply of water to hundreds of millions of people in China and the Indian subcontinent.
The WWF called for work toward reducing carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming plus increasing the use of renewable energy and energy-saving measures.
The countries participating in the “Energy and Environment Ministerial Roundtable” include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the United States, plus non-G8 countries Australia, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, and Spain.