Last week we told you about the early warning system that was put into action in Nepal during the floods in August. Practical Action have produced a short video showing the extent of the flooding and the response.
Ten4 Design are a digital studio doing great things for ambitious organisations. Take a look at their brilliant portfolio. They are also keen cyclists and mountaineers, so a perfect match for The Glacier Trust.
Two of our riders are from Birmingham based company Valveforce (you can sponsor them securely via VirginMoney Giving). Their logo along with those of Velo Birmingham and Ten4 appear on the t-shirt along with our website address and our 'enabling climate change adaptation in Nepal' strapline.
Thank-you to everyone at Ten4 design for supporting #TeamTGT.
We spoke to long time TGT partner Dinanath Bhandari this morning. As the water recedes and Nepal, India and Bangladesh recover from a flood that killed over 1,500 people, he told us about the early warning systems in place across Nepal. Early estimates suggest that over 300 lives were saved in Nepal thanks to the effectiveness of the early warning systems. Dinanath has blogged over on the Practical Action site, explaining how the systems work and how they have steadily improved over time. What is clear though is that there is more work to do. Preparedness is key to saving lives and as Climate Change brings the threat of more and worse flooding. There is a need to learn lessons and act now, at all levels of society, to minimise the tragic impacts floods can have in Nepal and other vulnerable countries.
An extract from Dinanath's blog, read the full article here.
In this year flood, some components demonstrated success but ultimate response actions had limitations. The weather and flood risk forecasting happened in time, communication were improved but could not generate actionable advisories for particular communities in time. The human and governance parts of the systems are yet to graduate. It lacked specific risk knowledge to take proper actions in right time. As the result there were differentiated flood response actions. Flood early warning should mean people at risk zone are evacuated before flood reaches their location. It’s all about taking people to safety before hazards come. But many people waited flood to arrive at them after they got alerts and warnings. Is it adequate? EWS is part of DRR and preparedness, not a stand alone system.
Practical Action have produced a short video on the early warning system:
Musonda Mumba speaks to the glacier trust
by Morgan Phillips
Earlier this month I met with Dr. Musonda Mumba in London to talk about her work at UNEP where she leads on ecosystem based adaptation. We first came into contact with Musonda after she shared a platform with Dhananjay Regmi on Al Jazeera’s Climate Change special in June. We have since been in touch via Twitter where her following is growing.
We met in a café in Spitalfields market in the heart of London. Musonda was in the UK for a conference in Cambridge and took the opportunity to stay on for a week with her young children, visiting family and friends. She did her PhD in London and looked pleased to be back, despite the monsoon type weather we had that day. Home for her now is Nairobi, Kenya, where she works out of the UN’s Environmental Agency headquarters (the only UN agency headquartered in the south).
Musonda has worked for UNEP for almost 9 years. UNEP has undergone a soft rebranding to become UN Environment. As Musonda explained, the move is to ensure that the purpose of the programme is not lost in the jargon of an acronym. It is a change brought in by Erik Solheim, UN Environment’s Executive Director, and something Musonda is clearly in favour of.
Musonda is warm and has a witty sense of humour. Her jokes are subtle and knowing, perhaps a reflection of years spent working at a global level where international, national and local politics collide and all have a capacity to surprise, frustrate, shock or delight. Our discussion travelled from the excellent progress being made in tackling litter in east Africa through to the Anthropocene and Brexit, but we focussed in on our main shared area of interest: climate change adaptation, specifically ecosystem based adaptation.
Musonda’s expertise is in wetland hydrology, the subject of her PhD and her previous work at WWF UK. Her focus there was on conservation, protecting habitats and communities in the zones around wetland areas. Since joining UN Environment, her work has taken her around the world to countries like Peru, Nepal and, closer to home, Uganda and Tanzania. She is involved in the design and implementation of climate change adaptation projects all over the world, with a specific emphasis on fresh water ecosystems.
I asked her to explain ecosystem based adaptation (EbA) and how it relates to other approaches.
Ecosystem adaptation is part of wider strategy of adaptation, you need to have a cocktail of solutions of what’s going to work in an environment. By definition, ecosystem based adaptation is reducing the impacts of climate change while also making sure that biodiversity and ecosystem services that we are all dependent on remain healthy.
She talked me through an example from Dar es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania which, thanks to Climate Change, is increasingly prone to storm surges:
We sat down with the Tanzanian government and asked them what they would like to see us do in terms of providing mitigating factors for the communities that are along the coast, the eastern seaboard of Tanzania. We went through a cost-benefit analysis with them and the Tanzanian government said ‘it’s plain and simple, this segment of the coastline will have a sea wall, because we have a port and we don’t want our infrastructure to be damaged. And this section of the coast we are going to rehabilitate to restore some the mangrove forest that have disappeared.’
So, in Tanzania, a cocktail of solutions was settled upon, the port was protected by a human made sea wall (often referred to as grey infrastructure), while the mangrove forest (green infrastructure) was restored to help fish return. This re-established the fishing grounds that had been lost and helped revive the local economy. Musonda used this example to stress something important about the ecosystem based adaptation approaches she advocates. There is a principle of emphasising livelihoods in designing solutions. It is a pragmatic view that resonates well in political circles. It is not possible to do everything in isolation of people. The risk to natural ecosystems is climatic, but it is related to other risks and challenges faced by any particular environment or location. The cocktail of solutions must be a response to the cocktail of problems. Musonda cited a similar example from a project in Fiji, where a mix of adaptation solutions were implemented in a coastal location and there are several other examples too.
It is a story of compromise, systems thinking and the ability to look holistically at the situation. It factors in the needs of society and ecology. As a stakeholder, and often co-funder, of adaptation work UN Environment seek to champion and promote the value of ecosystems and the services they can provide. Ecosystem services are often seemingly invisible (certainly compared to a very visible sea wall) or at least overlooked, so part of Musonda’s job is to highlight their importance. She makes them feel relevant in the thinking of politicians and planners. This is why, I think, she uses terms like ‘green infrastructure’ to communicate the role ecosystems play in people’s lives. It is a linguistic technique that helps her grab the attention of her audience by using language that is familiar to them. In this way she is better able to make a case for conservation of any particular ecosystem. It takes the argument beyond a simple call to protect nature for the sake of flora and fauna alone. By highlighting the socio-economic benefits of well-functioning ecosystems, Musonda and UN Environment can convince pragmatic policy makers to adopt ecosystem based adaptation approaches. Positive outcomes for livelihoods is an important influencing lever in political decision making. Musonda seemed confident that the message is getting through:
[Ecosystem based adaptation] is happening now in the Netherlands, in Switzerland. There are a lot of countries that are now reclaiming, or giving back to nature because there is a realization now that bricks and mortar don’t do justice to a system and you don’t get back the biodiversity that you want.
But, we have not achieved blanket recognition of this worldwide yet. Indeed, the value of ecosystem based adaptation has been overlooked for numerous political and economic reason’s right here in the UK. When floods hit in Yorkshire in 2015, one town remained relatively unscathed. Thanks to the intelligent management of upland ecosystems the town of Pickering was spared while others suffered a deluge. Planners in Pickering worked with nature while other towns and cities were flooded. Right across Yorkshire, degraded upland ecosystems were not able to provide the water restricting services that had saved Pickering.
There is a global need, just like in Yorkshire, to reconnect people with the power of natural processes and ecosystem services to highlight their value and potential in climate change adaptation. This is a core task for Musonda and her colleagues at UN Environment.
Communities do understand, maybe it is a matter of articulating a lot better, even on paper and also as part of the whole educational process. Because sometimes somebody would say to me, ‘well we don’t really need this river.’ Yes we do. The river is doing a, b, c and d, these services from nature are so critical. So we had to then engage with communities to articulate on paper a lot better.
It is an effort to give people the confidence to believe in what they intuitively know, but were steered away from during an era where heavy technology was presented over and over as a salvation. This educational drive is necessary at community level, but also, more crucially, at policy level. I asked her how she felt about adaptation policy in Nepal and where we currently are with it.
Nepal is very interesting, it is one of the Climate Convention member countries that designed the NAPAs (National Adaptation Programme of Action) in a very interesting way. They came back and said we want to take the programme a notch lower or higher, we want to have LAPAs (Local Adaptation Programme of Action). They have a very interesting local jurisdiction process for governance and a lot of countries learned from that, because they had to go to up to the community level and design and identify the most vulnerable and urgent action required, as per the NAPA process, but really at the microcosm of the village. Things start going missing as you go up the ladder of the governance structure. By the time you get to the provincial level the understanding of what is going on at the community level is almost lost.
But, Nepal does not seem to have got there quite yet. Musonda told me that a lot of the policy in Nepal, like many developing countries, is fantastic on paper, but they are yet to be fully implemented. The 2015 earthquakes naturally and understandably changed the priorities for all decision makers from village level to national Government level. Musonda was working in Nepal at the time of the earthquakes and told me what the changing priorities meant for their EbA work:
In a number of spaces it has been an opportunity to rethink some of the implementation processes in response to the disaster and the need for rebuilding. What was interesting to me in the foothills in Nepal, where we were working, were the demographic shifts. A lot of the areas in and around the middle areas of the Himalayas are getting depopulated of men. So they now have predominately female and old people households. The challenge is that Nepal’s policies are pretty patriarchal and you are doing this in an environment that has become predominantly female. Therefore, at a local level, when you are making a decision in terms of how you are going to manage, or what you are going to grow in this particular area, you really can’t make a decision because you have to get permission from someone in Kathmandu who owns the land and you are 300 kilometres away.
In response, the conversations UN Environment and its partners are having with the Nepali government centre on designing policy instruments that allow women to make these decisions at a local level. Not having to wait for a long time as discussions flow through patriarchal systems of husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers and grandfathers who are often many miles away would make a huge difference.
How do you create that balance, bearing in mind the gender balance and the demographic shifts that have happened over quite a long time, to empower the community? Particularly the women, to make sure that they are aware that they can do all of these activities and build resilience in their own right under the new circumstances, which are almost the new normal.
Finding an answer to this question is a task for all NGOs as well as Government bodies working in Nepal today. There are some examples of good practice to draw on the COPILA project that The Glacier Trust has supported along with Helvetas and others in Nepal is an example, as is our work in Solukhumbo. But the need to spread awareness of these issues and factor them into project design and implementation remains. This is not only an issue facing Nepal, demographic shifts are happening worldwide and altering gender balance and age profiles in villages everywhere.
As our conversation broadened out Musonda told me about her current work and a trend she has noticed in how adaptation programmes are being designed:
Depending on the Government we are working with, the decision around the [Climate Change] adaptation process is dependent on community needs and also who they are trying to access resources from. What has happened more now in the development / climatic world is that the World Bank, for the first time has an ecosystem based approach mechanism to their infrastructure. Also now, because of its nature as a bank it has put in specific safeguards, looking at the implications of a road, bridge, railway system, etc. So, what is happening a lot more now is that there is a lot more screening: ‘fine you need a road, what material are you using? What are the implications?’ Because when a flood hits, the porosity of the ground is important. If it is less porous all hell breaks loose.
Systems thinking is taking a hold. Investment in adaptation projects is being done after some deep critical thinking about the broad consequences of decisions on things like the type of road surface. As decision makers at agencies like the World Bank are becoming more versed in ecosystem services and the value of ecosystem based adaptation, the programmes and projects they funnel funding towards are those that are being designed with that sort of thinking in mind. Hearing this from Musonda gives me hope that nature might become a more potent ingredient in the cocktail of adaptation solutions.
We finished up discussing the balance that now exists at a global level when it comes to the importance being placed on climate change adaptation compared to mitigation. Musonda felt that, post Paris 2015, the balance is now 50/50 and we have reached a tipping point where adaptation becomes the priority. There is a growing realisation at nation state and UN level that any benefits from mitigation efforts are going to be felt in the future, rather than now. The need to adapt to the Climate Change that is already locked in is growing impossible to ignore. As a consequence, new adaptation funds and instruments are emerging and more attention is being paid to their design and efficacy.
Interestingly too, as money flows into Climate Change adaptation, the relationship between it, development funding, mitigation funding and the sustainable development goals is coming into focus. Countries are navigating this complexity, ensuring that development projects, mitigation projects and adaptation projects are not designed and implemented in silos. There is a need to merge programmes to avoid overlaps and conflicts at a local level. The requires systems thinking, and, in many cases, ecosystems thinking.
Musonda is clearly optimistic and I came away from the conversation feeling optimistic too. Adaptation is becoming more and more prominent at a policy level and the cocktail of solutions that bodies like UN Environment are now able to design and implement are evolving rapidly and in new exciting directions. Ecosystems services and the growing understanding of the value of ecosystem based adaptation is at the heart of this.
Further reading: UN briefing papers on ecosystem based adaptation
- INTRODUCTION TO ECOSYSTEM-BASED ADAPTATION: A nature-based response to climate change
- Generating multiple benefits from Ecosystem-based Adaptation in mountain ecosystems
- Making the economic case for Ecosystem-based Adaptation
- Making the case for policy change and financing for Ecosystem-based Adaptation
Ecosystem based Adaptation is very relevant to Nepal and is something that is increasingly important in our work. To find out more, please visits our projects pages.
The Glacier Trust has a new volunteer!
Meleah Moore has joined the team to help us out with our social media and other digital activities. We asked her to introduce herself....
Hello, I’m Meleah Moore working on social media for The Glacier Trust. I hold an M.A. in Sustainable Development from the University of St. Andrews and recently reported on environmental injustices created by hydraulic fracturing operations in Ohio. My next move is to Kanpur, India to work with Helpusgreen, a social business that preserves the Ganges via flowercycling. I am inspired by using multimedia to give voice to climate change issues at a local level and aim to shine a bright light on innovative adaptation projects. Follow The Glacier Trust Instagram to see what I've been up to!
You can find out more about Meleah's work on her website. Welcome Meleah, it is great to have you on the team!
We are very excited to announce that ITV's Matt Rendell is to join our team for this year's Velo Birmingham cycle ride!
Matt Rendell is a freelance journalist with various commitments and a hectic moveable schedule. Right now, he is free on September 24th and ready to join #TeamTGT as road captain for the day. We have space for three more riders, so this is your chance to ride alongside one of cycling's leading journalists. Matt is the guy who interviews all your favourite pros as they rush from finish line to team bus at the Tour de France. He has some incredible stories to tell from his days on the road; this is your chance to hear them first hand!
The only thing that might keep Matt away is a schedule change that will see him dashing off to cover a race somewhere else in Europe, but he's 90% sure he'll be in Birmingham and ready to lead #TeamTGT on 24 September!
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) is calling on Government's and the private sector to 'work to break the cycle of disaster-risk-and-recovery that forces developing nations to take reactive – rather than proactive – approaches when bad weather hits.'
The case for this more strategic approach is made by Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, the UNDPs head of Climate Change adaptation, in an article this week. His appeal is for improved resilience, so that those who live and work on the front line of Climate Change are better prepared and protected from devastating events like floods, landslides, droughts and disease. Emergency aid is vital when disaster hits, but if we can prevent disasters from happening in the first place we can save millions of lives and billions of pounds. As UNDP say, better to be proactive than reactive.
Resilience has long been a buzzword in Climate Change and Sustainability circles and it sits at the heart of project design for The Glacier Trust and our NGO partners in Nepal. This is why, in Nawalparasi, we have just agreed to extend our project work in the district of Deurali.
Earlier this year we funded the construction of a new water supply system in Deurali to serve the mountain villages of Durlunga and Baseni. As ICIMOD's excellent new report details, water availability (or rather a lack of it when it is most needed) is one of the most severe impacts of Climate Change in this region of Nepal. The water supply system in Deurali is an effective way to mitigate against sudden droughts. It creates a steady flow of water to farmers who were previously reliant on increasingly erratic and unpredictable rainfall to nourish their crops.
Providing a new water supply system is one thing and we are very proud of that achievement, but it is not enough to do this and then leave. Farmers need regular, year round support, so that they get the training they need to maximise the benefit the new water system will bring. They also need support to maintain the new system, to fix any teething problems and to make the small adjustments needed to ensure a steady flow. Training and support will be provided by Jindagi, HICODEF's project officer who leads our work in Deurali. He is young, energetic and incredibly knowledgeable. He will be delivering monthly Farmer Field Schools in three villages across Deurali, teaching farmers how to grow, transport, market and sell crops like tomatoes, cauliflower and chilli. He will oversee maintenance of the water supply system and coordinate with local cooperatives to establish market mechanisms for the farmers. We are blessed to have him on the team.
The life of the farmer can be fragile and incredibly stressful. This is true in the U.K. and true in Nepal. The difference is that in Nepal, the poorest nation in Asia, crop failure can mean a very fast descent into severe food poverty. By funding projects that have an eye on the long term and on resilience, we can guard against sudden shocks and prevent crises before they happen.
We need funds now to extend our work in Deurali into 2018 and beyond. Please visit our donate pages and support our work if you can.
In discussions like those held at the UN Climate Change conference in Paris in 2015, we talk about limiting the increase in global average temperatures to 2C. But 2C warmer than what?
We are aiming to keep global average temperature to less than 2C higher than the pre industrial global average temperature. Or, more simply the global average temperature at the point just before the industrial revolution began in earnest. That is the baseline.
But what if we're not going back far enough in time? What if the global average temperature in the late 1800's, which is the period current baselines come from, were already an increase on a true pre-industrial average?
Evidence strongly suggests that greenhouse gases were already changing the climate in the late 1800's; global average temperatures were already rising compared to say the early 1700s. So the baseline temperature we are using was probably already 0.2C warmer than the true 'pre industrial' global average.
What this means for our present day emissions and warming targets is explored by Michael Mann and others in a new paper published by Nature.
The UK Department for International Development set out the UK aid strategy for 2017/18 last week. The country profile summarising how planned budgets of £92m and £82m will be spent in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively can be downloaded here.
More detail can be found on DFID's development tracker pages.
Here are DFID's headline deliverables:
Innovate. Innovate. Innovate! Californians are painting their roads white to reflect the sun's rays and cool the city! What do you think?
If you are signed up to our mailing list (physical mail that is, the sort that comes through a letterbox) you should have received a printed copy of our latest newsletter by now. If you have not received it, but would like a copy, please contact us with your postal address and we will get one out to you asap.
Meanwhile, we have uploaded the stories to our blog pages, so you can read them right here:
Here is how you can help TGT to achieve even more in 2017/18:
Make a donation: Visit www.glaciertrust.org/donate
Join our team at Velo Birmingham: We have secured five places at this year's Velo Birmingham cycle ride, if you would like to join our team please register here.
Spread the word: We are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please like, share and retweet our posts if helps us to reach more people.
Volunteer: If you have any time to spare, we would your your help. Please get in touch with us to let us know about your skills and interests.
Six months have passed since I took over from Jamie as the UK Co-Director of The Glacier Trust (TGT). I have been learning the ropes, meetings partners and supporters and exploring the history of our work. It has been fascinating and invigorating. I have also been planning. We have developed a business plan, a budget and a fundraising strategy to take us through to 2020. We know what we need to do, how we are going to do it and what is required to achieve our goals. Exciting times ahead.
When I visited Nepal in February, I followed in the giant footsteps of our founder Robin. My overriding impression was that what TGT does, works. The successes are a huge tribute to Robin’s vision and hard work. So, when it comes to Climate Change adaptation, our future plans are quite simple, lets do more, lots more, of what works. We can reach more people, in more villages and offer tailored solutions to the challenges they face.
We have excellent partners in Nepal, they work tirelessly and diligently, it has been a pleasure getting to know them in person and via our regular early morning Skype calls. With their expertise and your continued amazing support, we can enable thousands of families and dozens of villages to flourish.
This is Padam Thada, he is a young farmer living in Durlunga, a small village perched on a ridge, high up in the Siwalik mountains of southern Nepal. Padam was born in Durlunga and grew up with his siblings and friends. He rarely left the village and spent his days helping with the farming, attending as much school as possible and, just before sunset, playing volleyball on the village square. When he grew into an adult he decided that he needed to move away, not just from Durlunga, but from Nepal entirely. He emigrated to Kuala Lumpar, the capital of Malaysia, and spent six years working in a huge commercial bakery. Like many Nepalese who feel compelled to migrate, he lived a life of long hours, low wages and frugal living.
After six years in Malaysia, Padam felt able to return to Durlunga. He was attracted home by the projects TGT are funding; word had spread. Over the last six years, we have supported 353 families across ten villages this region. We have trained farmers, constructed irrigation systems and rebuilt houses that were destroyed during the 2015 earthquakes. This all adds up to improved livelihood chances and has enabled young adults like Padam to see a future here.
Padam is now a ‘lead farmer’ in Durlunga, an important role in village life. He is teaching, inspiring and motivating others. When we met him in February this year, he had already sold 200kg of tomatoes, 125kg of cauliflower and 130kg of cabbage at the local market. The income is helping his family to invest in new seeds and equipment for their farm. For other farmers we met, their new income streams help pay school fees for their children and grandchildren.
Over the next two years, we plan to continue our support in Durlunga as part of a broad programme covering the villages of Satakun, Tandi, Baseni, Shyamgha and Dhababa. We will continue working with HICODEF, a local NGO who will run monthly farmer field schools and workshops to train 100 farmers a year. In addition, we will provide equipment for farmers to enable them to grow new cash crops on their land and maintain their new irrigation system. We need to keep supporting Padam and other young farmers in Nepal so that they can adapt their farming practices to the impacts of climate change and the demands of their local markets. With your support, we can literally keep villages like Durlunga alive.
The extent of our impact in eastern Nepal continues to grow. One of TGT's greatest achievements has been the establishment of the Deusa Agro Forestry Resource Centre (DAFRC). The DAFRC is a collaboration between our partner NGO Eco Himal, the Deusa community and The Glacier Trust. It is now wholly owned by the community, is nearing financial self-sufficiency and is an exemplary model of what can be done to enable mountain communities to adapt to climate change. The AFRC provides numerous functions; it is a training school, a plant nursery, a centre for livestock breeding, an agriculture demonstration plot, an innovation centre and a community meeting space.
The AFRC is quickly becoming a focal point for the community and we will continue to fund its development and expansion for the next two years. Since starting work in 2013, we know that 2,296 people have directly engaged with the AFRC’s services, that is around 47% of the population of Deusa. The aim is to increase this to 70% by 2020. In 2017/18, there are plans to establish satellite nurseries in neighbouring locations to improve access to seedlings and equipment. We will also support more training, further improvements to the AFRC building and greater innovation in agricultural methods.
In tandem with the DAFRC, we fund a brand-new outreach programme covering Deusa and its neighbouring district Waku. Through our partners, Eco Himal, we employ Hari Kumar Kharki, an expert agricultural technician and educator. Hari travels, on foot, to farms right across the Deusa and Waku. His role, as an educator, is to introduce farmers to improved agricultural methods. He enables farmers to change the way they farm livestock and crops, so that their efforts are more profitable and more resilient to the impacts of climate change. This work is in its early stages, so far we have reached just over 1% of the farmers in Waku. By combining Hari’s work with the expansion of the DAFRC we plan to reach 25% of the Waku population by 2020, some 1,480 people.
On our most recent visit we observed how interactive and two-way this educational process is. Hari learns and teaches simultaneously as he travels from farm to farm. His learnings from one farmer are transferred to others as he takes the lessons one farmer has learned from the introduction of a new crop or technique and passes it on to others; he is a pollinator. In addition, Hari is fed new ideas by senior staff at Eco Himal and experts like Richard Allen, our Nepal based co-director who visit Solukhumbo regularly. Working with Richard, colleagues at the AFRC and the Eco Himal team, Hari is currently helping farmers to experiment with hazelnuts and coffee in Deusa and Waku. We are confident that conditions are right in this region to grow both; if successful they could become highly profitable new income streams for the community.
Sankhuwasabha is the most remote community we support, it is close to the Nepal/Tibet border at an altitude of approximately 4,000 metres. The two village districts we support, Chepuwa and Hatiya, are at least four days walk from the nearest road. Due to its remoteness and the severity of the winter weather, we can only reach this district in the summer months.
Households here require year-round fuel to heat homes, warm water and cook food. Traditionally, families gather around an open hearth in their main living space. This causes two problems, firstly the smoke from the fire stays in the room escaping only through small cracks around doors and in the roof. The negative health effects are obvious, many people suffer from debilitating respiratory illnesses.
The environmental impacts are also profound. Chepuwa and Hatiya are located in the Makalu Barun National Park, home to the Red Panda and many other rare animal and plant species. Traditional open hearth fires are incredibly inefficient, it takes a lot of wood to keep the fire burning. This means that a lot of wood needs to be collected, leading to excessive deforestation. If nothing is done here deforestation will lead to the complete destruction of unique habitats and ecological systems.
We have worked with our partners, Eco Himal, to find a solution that will work in this unique environment. In Spring 2017 thirty brand new cooking stoves were transported to Sankhuwasabha. They are being tested during the summer months in thirty homes across Chepuwa and Hatiya. The stoves, if they work, will bring three key benefits:
(1) Healthier homes, free from smoke thanks to the introduction of a chimney;
(2) Improved ecology, the stoves burn wood a lot more efficiently the amount of wood needed will therefore fall significantly – this will help preserve habitats and endangered animal and plant life;
(3) More time, it takes families a long time to collect wood for the hearth, with less wood needed family members (usually women and children) will have more time for other activities, including education.
Eco Himal will revisit Sankhuwasabha in the autumn to assess how the stoves are working and report back to us. We are keen to learn if the families are comfortable using their new improved stoves, if homes are indeed healthier and if there has been a decrease in deforesting activities. We hope to extend the pilot and help fund the installation of more stoves in the future.
In October 2016, a team of three students and four teaching staff from Kathamandu and Tribahvan Universities visited the high mountains of Nepal. They were accompanied by TGT volunteers and experts in the Periglacial environment, Dr. Dhananjay Regmi and Prof. Jeff Kargel. Also accompanying the party was photographer Christopher Parsons who documented the field trip as part of his work with campaign group Project Pressure.
Setting off from Lukla, the team trekked through spectacular geography to the Nuptse Glacier, Imja Lake and Mount Chukkung Ri. The trek took a total of 18 days. Each evening our expert tutors lectured on periglacial and permafrost science, while also helping students with their MSc dissertation projects.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published some useful infographics on the impacts of Climate Change on health. These are excellent for teachers, NGOs and activists looking for ways to communicate the challenges faced by everyone, everywhere.
WHO have also updated their Climate Change fact sheet. Here are the key facts:
- Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.
- Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
- The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.
- Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.
- Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution.
The Glacier Trust exists to enable communities in remote mountain regions of Nepal to adapt to the impacts of Climate Change. Please support our work by making a donations today.
Our friend Erica at Technical Nature has told us about a really great comic book written to communicate on Climate Change adaptation in Portugal. It was created for the ClimAdaPT.Local project and tells the story of a reporter and cameraman covering climate change adaptation around the country. It is based on real life stories and highlights the challenges people face and the solutions that are available to them. It is a great way to raise awareness and communicate the issues in an engaging way.
We also learned about Cartoon Abstracts this week, which is an attempt to communicate the findings of academic research in a more visual way. RSA Animate is another really popular example. There is definitely a trend emerging!
Portugal and Nepal face different challenges when it comes to climate change, but there are similarities and we are wondering whether a comic book could be helpful in Nepal? Please get in touch if you'd like to explore that opportunity with us!
Here's a page from 'Special Report Adaptation to Climate Change in Portugal' - you can download the full comic from ClimAdaPT.Local.
In New York magazine this week, David Wallace-Wells is publishing an interesting series of articles on Climate Change. On Sunday, he published 'The Uninhabitable Earth' a ten point run down of what unchecked Global Warming might have in store for us. Wallace-Wells set out to write up what the worst case scenario might be. Some of it is terrifying, not least the sections on permafrost melt. It was the cover story, it is an important document.
There is a strong argument against using 'fear of the consequences' as a way to inspire environmental behaviour change and we are very sympathetic to this at The Glacier Trust. A better approach is to tell positive stories centered on a vision of a more appealing, low carbon, future. This is what we endeavour to do. We believe in the human spirit, human ingenuity and our ability to adapt. Our projects are proof that positive change is possible. But, this does not mean to say that we shouldn't ever spell out how severe a situation lies ahead for our children. Playing down the potential dangers does not, ultimately, do us any good, Wallace-Wells should be congratulated for documenting what might happen if we get 4, 5 or 6 degrees C of warming over the next few decades.
Following on from the main article is a series of extended interviews with leading climatologists, first: Wallace Smith Broecker, the man who coined the term 'Global Warming'; second, leading paleontologist Peter Ward; and third James Hansen, probably the world's most famous climate scientist.
The main article is a 20 minute read, probably a bit longer if you add in time to follow links, fact check and let out exasperated gasps, but it is worth digesting. It makes one stand out point - by the end of the century, vast numbers of human beings could be in danger of heat death. Especially in the tropics. Here's a passage:
Humans, like all mammals, are heat engines; surviving means having to continually cool off, like panting dogs. For that, the temperature needs to be low enough for the air to act as a kind of refrigerant, drawing heat off the skin so the engine can keep pumping. At seven degrees of warming, that would become impossible for large portions of the planet’s equatorial band, and especially the tropics, where humidity adds to the problem; in the jungles of Costa Rica, for instance, where humidity routinely tops 90 percent, simply moving around outside when it’s over 105 degrees Fahrenheit would be lethal. And the effect would be fast: Within a few hours, a human body would be cooked to death from both inside and out.
Someone hit the alarmist alarm bell! Michael Mann took to Facebook to do exactly that. Sandwiched in between the interviews with Ward, Hansen and Broecker is an unedited Q&A with Mann, the scientist most famous for the 'hockey stick graph'. It is an interesting read. Mann has also co-published an article in the Washington Post this week that points out some of the exaggerations in the Wallace-Wells article and rehearses the arguments against alarmism - also worth a read.
If you'd like to enable families already living with the impacts of climate change, please make a donation to The Glacier Trust. 100% of your donation will go to our project work in Nepal.
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