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Himalayan climate change threatens regional stability. Can India help?

As the devastating floods in Pakistan showed, atmospheric pollutants are disturbing the Himalayan region's weather patterns – and local economies. But India has a pivotal opportunity to cut 'black carbon' emissions and minimize the damage.

River of (melting) ice: The Siachen Glacier, in the Himalayas between India and Pakistan, provides much of the water that flows into the Indus River.

Channi Anand/AP/File

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It is widely known from satellite imagery and on-the-ground intelligence that the Arctic and parts of the Antarctic polar ice caps are melting, and melting fast. But what both scientists and the public don’t know enough about is the rapid melting of Earth’s third large reservoir of snow and ice – the glaciers of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.

The regions surrounding the Himalayas – China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan – could be in serious climate trouble. Warming temperatures and air pollutants are altering the climate – severely impacting the entire region’s monsoon system, which has driven those economies for thousands of years. Atmospheric pollution strains not just the ecological climate, but the region’s economic and political climates as well.


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