Sherpas are said to be children of the Himalayas. They introduced Mount Everest after Edmund Hillary conquered it. But they have been compelled to withdraw from their traditional role of mountain guides and turned into hoteliers. Some are chasing modern lives in the cities. Sherpas have been living the north west of Nepal since the beginning of 17th century but the world came to know about them only in the 20th century. Hillary was actually the one who first related to the Sherpas that mountaineering could be a business. Currently there are 150,000 Sherpas in the area. The Kumjhum School, set up by Hillary himself, is where almost every Sherpa child goes to study.
Khumbu, the largest glacier in the world. A part of this sea of ice turns into water continuously. This 12-mile glacier used to begin at 4000 metres in 1965 but has receded to 4,900 metres today. The local Sherpas and experts say this is not only harmful for the environment but also risky for people. There are 250 such glaciers around the 5310 square km of the Himalayas. Although many of them are still found in maps and atlases, they have all but dried and ceased to exist. Sudeep Barao has been to the Everest Base Camp 35 times in the last 20 years and says Khumbu used to be much larger before.
Climate is changing rapidly along the path to the Everest Base camp. This years weather hardly corresponds to the trends of last year’s weather. It is thus posing a higher degree of threat for mountaineers. It also taking them longer to climb up to the base camp.
Practitioners say climate change raises the volume of people migrating to the cities as well as poverty. Consequently working and poor children frequently drop out of schools, they say. Containment of this dropout rate has become a challenge for Bangladesh education minister Nurul Islam Nahid. He says even midday meals and stipends are not working anymore. According to government figures, 99.47 children regularly attend school. But how many of them actually do attend remains in doubt. There are 7.4 million working children in Bangladesh. Of them, 78 percent have never even been to school because the families have never been able to settle in one place. And among those who go to school, 60.6 percent are compelled to leave the institution because of poverty. According to a UNICEF official, about half of all domestic helps do not spend more than a year with one employer. As a result this group has a high dropout rate.
The reduction commitments made by developed countries according to the Bali Road Map still remain in paper. There was a commitment in Copenhagen in 2009 to give out $30 billion by 2012 for afforestation and adaptation. But regular development assistance continues to be shown as climate aid although the rich countries had accounted for the commitments on paper. Although the 2012 Doha Conference proposed to extend the Kyoto Protocol it does not include large emitters like United States and Canada. Furthermore, the issue of intellectual property rights for climate technology remains unresolved.
One billion people will lose their homes in the next 50 years according to the Guardian. Of them Bangladesh will account for 30 million. The North Channel Shoal is in the middle of Faridpur’s Kumar river. There is no dearth of people here who have lost their homes to river erosion between 10 and 15 times. The rate of river erosion is also increasing. The number of landless labourers is also on the rise. Villagers are flocking to the cities in a continuous procession. But women are the most vulnerable to climate change. The issues of food and social security are intricately linked with climate refugees which also puts Bangladesh at grave risk.
Cyclone Sidr still remains fresh in people’s memory after five years it stuck. Some 4500 people died that fatal night. The victims still remember the destruction as clear as daylight. It is perhaps that burning memory that sends them scampering to the shelters now whenever there is a warning at the coastal areas. And those signals have become more frequent. Sharankhola is a small union of the southern Khulna division where 150 government and non-government organisations have been at work over the last five years. But the coastal people still lag far behind in terms of healthcare, education and food security.
Natural seed production process is gradually being lost to climate change and lack of awareness. This puts pressure on the marginal farmers and at the same raises food prices. The six seasons are being lost to climate change which brings with it unusual changes in temperature and rainfall. Farmers themselves say they often have to resort to hybrid seeds during droughts and unusually heavy monsoon. Agriculture expert Mahbub Hossain says farmers need technology as well as training. Currently high yielding varieties account for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s harvest. However, the number of complaints from disgruntled farmers who have been deceived by commercial seed sellers is also on the rise.