India has taken recent steps to minimize this pollution by developing cleaner-burning cookstoves, putting it at the forefront of regional climate change. If India continues these initiatives, it could serve as a model for changing behavior, one stove at a time.
Consider these statistics. Indian researchers say that the Himalayan glaciers are melting. In some places, the snowline has moved up 1,500 feet, seasonal snow cover has decreased, and winter snow melt has increased. A remote-sensing survey of over 1,300 Indian glaciers found an overall decrease in mass balance – the difference between growth and retreat – of 16 percent since 1962.
What emerges from these data is that the Himalayan glaciers provide us with an early warning of the climatic changes that are affecting the whole region. Recent studies show that the glaciers have retreated in some parts of the Himalayan region, which could be due to the tropospheric warming that has affected the monsoon patterns in the region.
The majority of Indians, however, don’t live in scientific studies and statistics. They live life in line with the extreme seasons and their famous monsoon. Precipitation during the monsoon is vital to the health of the Himalayan glaciers, as well as the downstream region’s agriculture.
Yet climate data suggests the monsoon is becoming more unpredictable, translating to decreases in food production, scarcer water supplies, harsher cycles of flooding, and severe drought. Earlier this year, floods in Pakistan killed thousands and left millions homeless in one of the worst natural disasters the world has ever seen.