Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Mount Everest

The Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region, home to Mount Everest, is set to lose due at least a third of its ice due to human-induced global temperature rise within this century. (Photo: Thisisbadri/Wikimedia/cc)

'The Climate Crisis You Haven't Heard of': Even if Carbon Emissions Fall, a Third of Himalayan Ice to Melt by 2100

"Global warming is on track to transform the frigid, glacier-covered mountain peaks of the HKH cutting across eight countries to bare rocks in a little less than a century."

Jessica Corbett

From the North Pole to Greenland to Antarctica, a series of recent scientific findings on ice loss has heightened alarm among experts, but a landmark study out Monday focuses on what the lead author called "the climate crisis you haven't heard of"—the "shocking" amount of ice the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region is set to lose due to rising temperatures by 2100.

"It's the projected reductions in pre-monsoon river flows and changes in the monsoon that will hit hardest, throwing urban water systems and food and energy production off kilter."
—Philippus Wester, ICIMOD

Even if policymakers around the world heed scientists' urgent warnings and take immediate, ambitious actions to meet the primary goal of the Paris agreement—to limit global average temperature rise within this century to 1.5°C—about a third of the region's glaciers will still melt, disrupting rivers across Asia, according to the new report from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

If planet-warming carbon emissions are cut by half and the global average temperature rise hits 2°C, researchers predict the HKH region—home to Mount Everest—will lose about half of its ice. If carbon emissions continue unabated, global average temperature will soar 4-5°C, and a devastating two-thirds of glaciers will melt in what's often called the world's "Third Pole."

No matter the degree of melt, the consequences are expected to be dramatic, particularly for the 1.9 billion people reliant on regional resources. As lead author Philippus Wester of ICIMOD put it, "Global warming is on track to transform the frigid, glacier-covered mountain peaks of the HKH cutting across eight countries to bare rocks in a little less than a century."

"Impacts on people in the region, already one of the world's most fragile and hazard-prone mountain regions, will range from worsened air pollution to an increase in extreme weather events," Wester said. "But it's the projected reductions in pre-monsoon river flows and changes in the monsoon that will hit hardest, throwing urban water systems and food and energy production off kilter."

The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, the first comprehensive analysis of its kind for the region, brought together more than 350 researchers and policy experts from 22 countries and 185 organizations over the course of five years. It was styled after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports—the most recent of which warned that without "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented" systemic changes, human-induced global warming could reach 1.5°C around 2040.

Such predictions are especially dire for mountainous regions like the HKH—which spans Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. At higher elevations, temperatures rise even more quickly, as the Guardian captured in a graphic inspired by the assessment's findings:

Guardian graphic

"There are rocky times ahead for the region: between now and 2080, the environmental, economic, and social conditions laid out in the report could go downhill," concluded Eklabya Sharma, deputy director general of ICIMOD.

"Because many of the disasters and sudden changes will play out across country borders, conflict among the region's countries could easily flare up," he noted. "But the future doesn't have to be bleak if governments work together to turn the tide against melting glaciers and the myriad impacts they unleash."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·


In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·


Patients in Trigger-Ban States Immediately Denied Abortion Care in Post-Roe US

Some people scheduled to receive abortions were turned away within minutes of the right-wing Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo