Cold Tibet quickly becoming warm, warns Buddhist monk

Dharamsala, Nov 20 (IANS) The rate of warming at the Tibetan plateau – the third largest concentration of ice after the south and north poles – is two times greater than the global average, observed a top Buddhist monk who is also an environmentalist. The river systems that flow from the Tibetan plateau go to countries like India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Tibetan religious head and 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje told IANS in an interview: “Given that the rate of warming in the Tibetan plateau is at least two times greater than the global average, we know flooding and droughts are bound to worsen.”

The 29-year-old Buddhist monk, the third most important Tibetan religious head who spent initial years of life in eastern Tibet, is upbeat about the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

“We are all looking forward to the Paris conference on climate change, which will begin at the end of this month to see if the world leaders will be willing to limit rising greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Climate researchers of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) say the Tibetan plateau is highly vulnerable to climate change. They have warned that over two-thirds of the glaciers could disappear by 2050.

The plateau has seen an increase in temperature of approximately 0.3 degrees Celsius every 10 years, says a researcher. In the past 50 years, the temperature has increased by 1.3 degrees Celsius, three times the global average, he said.

The Karmapa, who now resides in a monastery on the outskirts of this town, was born into a Tibetan nomad family. He loves to paint and pursues calligraphy and poetry.

The Tibetan plateau in southwestern China with 46,000 glaciers makes it home to the third largest concentration of ice after the south and north poles.

Known as the water tower of Asia, it directly sustains over 150 million people and affects the lives of several billion downstream dwellers.

The Karmapa believes the effects of climate change on the Tibetan plateau will not occur in isolation.

“When we think about climate change impacts in mainland Asia, we should think deeply on the role of water in the region,” the Buddhist monk said.

Praying that a global agreement emerges when senior officials from almost 200 nations meet from November 30 to December 11 in Paris for climate talks, he said: “If there is one thing we now know about climate change it’s that its impacts do not discriminate on the basis of a nation’s wealth or power.”

The Karmapa, who fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000, is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Buddhism.

He’s considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.

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