Why it mat­ters?

Business Bhutan - - Editoria -

Lit­tle had Bhutan and its peo­ple known about the va­garies of global warm­ing be­fore 1994 de­spite hav­ing had treaded cau­tiously on the path of devel­op­ment since the 1960s af­ter hav­ing had opened its doors to the out­side world.

But the Glacial Lake Out­burst Floods (GLOFs) in 1994, trig­gered by the out­burst of the Lugge Tsho which wrecked hav­ocs down­stream in Pu­nakha, is still a vivid re­minder that Bhutan is as vul­ner­a­ble as any other coun­tries in the world to the im­pacts of cli­mate change.

Peo­ple, prior to the un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent, were in obliv­ion, obliv­i­ous of the rea­son be­hind such in­ci­dent, and the un­der­stand­ing of the sce­nario. They ap­par­ently as­sumed that the dis­as­ter as a mere event where they sim­ply had no con­trol over it, while some be­lieved that the catas­tro­phe was a mere re­sult of the clash or bat­tle of the gods.

The in­ci­dent was, in­du­bitably, an eye opener for Bhutan, an eye opener for that age and for that time. It was per­haps the dawn of re­al­iza­tion that we are vul­ner­a­ble as well and liv­ing on mercy of na­ture.

The signs are be­com­ing more ap­par­ent to­day. Mon­soon pat­terns are chang­ing and be­com­ing more er­ratic. The rain­falls that usu­ally be­stowed lives to ru­ral farms have started com­ing late, be­come more er­ratic and un­pre­dictable. Ad­di­tion­ally, ex­treme events are ob­served more fre­quently – un­sea­sonal rains and drought, wind­storms, flash floods and more nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, and once snow-capped moun­tains have presently huge swathes of ex­posed rocks now as glaciers and are ap­par­ently re­treat­ing rapidly. And we are also liv­ing in a pre­car­i­ous predica­ment, never know­ing when the 24 po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous lakes out of the to­tal 2,674 might wreak hav­ocs for the coun­try.

While we may pro­claim of hav­ing done more than any other coun­try in the world and our mam­moth con­tri­bu­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment, the lau­rels such as cham­pion of the earth and car­bon neu­tral coun­try shouldn’t make us com­pla­cent.

We are to­day liv­ing in chang­ing times. Chang­ing times bring along new chal­lenges too, par­tic­u­larly for the en­vi­ron­ment. Nat­u­ral re­sources are ex­ploited as rooms are created for new devel­op­ment and ex­ist­ing ones grow to meet the needs of a rapidly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. And there is a del­uge of peo­ple mov­ing to cities and ur­ban towns in search of the per­ceived and real com­forts of modernity. And, as in many Asian coun­tries, the im­pacts of cli­mate change are on the rise. We may even be co­erced to lose ev­ery­thing we have worked so hard to pro­tect if we are in­dif­fer­ent to the chal­lenges be­fore us.

De­spite the chal­lenges, the fact is that en­vi­ron­ment con­ser­va­tion is in­evitable for Bhutan. Con­ser­va­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment is just not for the sake of the en­vi­ron­ment, but for the sake of Bhutan’s own peo­ple and their fu­ture. It’s how we sur­vive!

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