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from The Human Impact:

Death in “Dev Bhoomi” – Disaster in Hinduism’s holiest place

Prakash Kabra recites his elder brother’s mobile number and I carefully tap it into my phone – already knowing the response, but still with a naïve sense of hope.

"The number you are calling is either switched off or unreachable at the moment. Please try again later," says the automated reply.

It’s a response Prakash has heard countless times over the last six weeks. Yet he continues to call, hoping against hope that his brother – missing since deadly floods and landslides devastated India’s Himalayas – will answer.

Along with 14 other family members, Prakash's brother, a businessman from the city of Lucknow, had travelled to the scenic northern region of Uttarakhand for the "Char Dham Yatra" – the most sacred of pilgrimages for the world's one billion Hindus.

from The Human Impact:

The night the rain fell: Living in fear in India’s Himalayas

I didn’t sleep a wink that night.

It poured and poured and didn’t seem to let up. I could hear it crashing down relentlessly. It was so loud that I had to get out of bed to check whether the window of my hotel room was open. It wasn’t.

The pitch blackness outside didn’t help to allay my anxiety. All I could hear was the thunderous noise of the rain beating down and rushing waters of the Alaknanda River on the banks of which my hotel in the Indian Himalayas was located.

from India Insight:

More pilgrims mean more trouble for shrines in north India

Nestled in the Himalayas, Uttarakhand attracts increasing numbers of visitors every year. Between 2001 and 2010, the number of visitors to the state rose nearly 200 percent to 30.3 million. With major Hindu shrines located in the state, about 70 percent of the tourists who visit the state visit religious sites. That is a worrying sign for ecologically fragile areas such as Kedarnath – a small temple town located 3,583 metres (11,755 feet) above sea level and almost entirely washed out in recent flash floods.

The rush to the Himalayas has been accompanied by a haphazard pattern of growth that might not be sustainable. A study by infrastructure group IL&FS IDC Ltd showed that the carrying capacities – maximum number of persons an environment can support -- of various tourist centres in Uttarakhand reached saturation levels in 2010.

from Changing China:

China: Green or Gray?

                   

As Copenhagen's climate talks draw near, more and more critics are turning to the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and asking how much damage has been done and what is being done about it?

China's booming double-digit growth came with a price. Coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels produces 80 percent of the country's energy. But China says change is already well underway. The government recently announced that it aims to cut 2005 carbon intensity levels by 40-45 percent by 2020.

from Environment Forum:

The golden, melting, re-freezing and ultimately disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro

Papa Hemingway probably didn't see this coming.

When he wrote "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in the 1930s, Ernest Hemingway described the summit of that African mountain as "wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun."

It's still wide, but may not be white much longer, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that says the remaining ice fields atop Kilimanjaro in Tanzania could be gone in 20 years or less, a casualty of climate change. Changes in clouds and precipitation play a minor role but the scientists say it's mostly due to global warming.

from Environment Forum:

Skating on thin ice

We hear a lot of grim news about how sea ice has been melting more than usual in recent summers in the Arctic, how glaciers from the Himalayas to the Andes are melting or how winter sports such as ice hockey in Canada may be under threat from global warming.

So here's a bit of light relief (assuming it's not for real):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuEpZaiKdAw&NR=1[/youtube]

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