Glaciers in the Alps are melting faster than ever and Himalayan glaciers are melting at the fastest rate in the world. In this context, examine its consequences on the world and the importance of preserving glaciers.

In 2022, glaciers in the Swiss Alps melted more than any other year on record and have lost an average of 6.2% of their ice. Similarly, several studies have concluded that glaciers across the Himalayas are melting at an extraordinary rate, faster than anywhere on the globe.

Reasons behind fast melting of glaciers:

  • Irreversible ecological degradation by destroying forests and damming the rivers.
  • Global warming.
  • Deposition on black soot and dust due to pollution on white snow, which reduces the sunlight reflection capacity of snow. Hence, more heat is absorbed and glaciers melt.
  • Lack of fresh snowfall – fresh snow forms a protective blanket by reflecting upto 90 percent of the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere and thus limits the warming and melting of the ice beneath.
  • Hydroelectric projects development in fragile ecosystems.
  • Massive slope cutting and use of heavy machinery for development purposes.
  • Unsustainable tourism.
  • Inadequate solid waste management, air pollution.
  • Heat waves.

Consequences:

  • Avalanches and flooding which also disrupt agricultural activities.
  • Melting glaciers contributes to sea-level rise.
  • Threat of inundation of coastal areas.
  • Increased soil erosion will jeopardize the structural integrity of roads and bridges as well as hydroelectric power plants.
  • Landslides will increase as the permafrost is also melting.
  • The year round availability of water for irrigation and drinking purposes will be reduced.
  • Perennial rivers may become seasonal.

Way forward:

  • Ecocentric based development strategy.
  • Promoting sustainable Tourism.
  • Afforestation.

It is very important to realize that maintaining ecological balance is not necessary just for the sake of sustainable development but more importantly, for the existence of humans and life on earth.

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