Over the past three years, the Dutch journalist Bernice Notenboom has mounted expeditions through Siberia, across Greenland and to the North and South Poles to report on the effects of Climate Change. Her most recent expedition was to another critically threatened region: the high Himalayas.
The greater Himalayan region has the largest concentration of snow and ice outside the two poles. Warming in the Himalayan region has been around double the global average and the rising temperatures are leading to rapid melting of the glaciers. The implications are dramatic. If the Himalayas lose their snow and ice, much of the water supply to Asia’s 10 largest rivers will dry up, threatening the food security of almost one and a half billion people. Just imagine Asia without the ability to grow rice…
In the process of mounting an expedition to climb Mt Everest, Bernice talks to scientists and local mountain people building up a comprehensive picture of the effects of the changing climate on the region. One example is the Imja glacier, which is retreating by over 70m a year and whose melt waters threaten to wash away a string of villages downstream.
Director Mark Verkerk (Buddha’s Lost Children), combines a portrait of this fast changing region with the drama of the expedition itself. The film is dedicated to the memory of team member Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa, who died in an avalanche on the notorious Khumbu Icefall – a tragic accident that Bernice Nooteboom and expedition leader Walter Laserer narrowly survived.
The Himalayas and other threatened areas, such as the Arctic and Antarctic, are the world’s early warning system as regards Climate Change — and the red light is now flashing. Climate change is real, we can’t turn it back, but we can curb its effects with disciplined measures and global cooperation. Today, with all our lives so deeply interconnected, taking concrete action is clearly in the interest of us all.
In the words of Dr. Andreas Schild, Director General of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development:
‘What happens in this remote mountain region is a serious concern for the whole world. The changes taking place are alarming, and the time to act is now.’