Sonam Wangchuk’s Effort to Aware People of Melting Himalayan Glaciers
Sonam Wangchuk and a team of 25 activists created small artificial glaciers called Ice Stupas as an example to make people aware of global warming’s impact on the Himalayas
Renowned education reformist and engineer Sonam Wangchuk along with a team of 25 young climate activists bicycled and hiked across Khardung La, one of the world’s tallest mountain passes, and further headed to Dharamshala. During this expedition, they carried small artificial glaciers called Ice Stupas for four days. After the end of their journey, they presented the Ice Stupas to Dalai Lama. These ice glacial figurines also had a note that global warming is melting Himalayan Glaciers and causing trouble to people residing in the Himalayas.
Led by Wangchuk, the entire team of climate activists first cycled from Leh to Khardung La and further hiked up to 40 km to the glacier. There they created the samples of glacier ice – weighing around 15 kg each – in large Milton containers covered with Pashmina shawls.
Further, they carried these glacial ice samples to Dharamshala to show the impact of rising environmental temperature on the Himalayas. It was a three-day event and was organized by the International Campaign for Tibet, Tibet Policy Institute, EURAC Research, and Czechs Support Tibet.
The idea behind this event was to spread the message of sustainability. Pashmina shawl around the containers represents Ladakh’s culture and people, particularly the weavers.
According to Wangchuk, it could be a natural representation of bringing change for a better environment. That’s why the whole team carried the ice in the cleanest possible way. Instead of boarding an airplane, they used cycles, electric vehicles, and public transport to propagate the message to bring change in our lifestyle to reduce human carbon emissions in the environment.
The blocks of ice they carried with them symbolise the rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers. Speaking about this expedition, Wangchuk addressed the crisis faced by people living in the region. He highlighted how people residing in the lap of the Himalayas are the first sufferers of the drastic climatic change. Soon, the crisis will impact others as well. Therefore, it is best to take positive eco-friendly measures before it’s too late.
Ladakh is covered by the Himalayas on all sides. And, glaciers are heating up at a higher rate of 0.7 degrees than the global average, leading to the depletion of glaciers in the Pangong Tso area by 6.70 percent, according to a study conducted between 1990 and 2019.
With melting glaciers and less snowfall due to global warming, there will be a decreased availability of freshwater in the mountains. As a result, the little farming in the cold deserts of Ladakh will also feel an adverse impact. In Ladakh’s desert, only fossilised water from the glaciers sustains life. But with melting glaciers, the local people won’t have a freshwater source to survive.
To take collective action to reduce this environmental crisis, Dalai Lama has also called upon the world leaders. Following that, Wangchuk and the team of climate activists visited him to address the issues faced by the Himalayan people.
With their expedition, the whole team has just one appeal: “Please live in the cities simply, so that the people in the mountains can simply live.”