Monday, October 27, 2008

Kashmir's vanishing glaciers | How green was my valley? | The Economist

Kashmir's vanishing glaciers | How green was my valley? | The Economist: "AFTER a hard climb up the eastern flank of the Kolahoi glacier, Ghulam Jeelani, a geo-hydrologist from the University of Kashmir, catches his breath. This is the Kashmir valley’s only year-round source of water. But it is melting at an alarming rate. The glacier is a dirty brown colour, wrinkled with crevasses. It looks more like an enormous mudslide than a frozen reservoir of fresh water. Mr Jeelani says that the glacier is in “ablation”—shrinking through melting. If present trends, which are blamed on climate change, continue, he concludes with a shrug, “In ten years there will be no Kolahoi glacier.”

This threatens the livelihoods of millions, and the Kashmir valley’s reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful places, made ugly only by decades of human conflict. The region, disputed by India and Pakistan, is riven by a bloody insurgency. The reopening this week of lorry trade across the “line of control” dividing Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir was a rare moment of optimism. It followed months of anti-Indian protests that have reinvigorated the valley’s secessionists."


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