Of Mountains and Men

2 Dec

Today we’re going to talk about Tibet. Yay Tibet!

I am a member of the Tibetan Studies Department here at Sichuan University. Supposedly, this means I am working on a paper about Tibet (women in Tibetan Buddhism), but I am lazy and have no real motivation to do so. What I do bother to work on is research assistance to my advisor, Professor Xu. Right now, her thing is all about eco-anthropology. Basically, that means studying how humans interact and change their environment. This is a growing field of anthropology, especially with global warming and the rising human population.  Professor Xu has to give a lecture to non-anthro majors and wanted resources to spice up her presentation. I was set to find the English language bits, for obvious reasons.

Without further ado, I give you what I dug up on Tibet, or at least the interesting bits about the Himalayas. Mountains are cool, people.

Photo taken from “Rivers of Ice”.

Rivers of Ice: Comparative Photography
A visual, interactive look at ice and glacier lost on Mt. Everest. Compares the amount of ice present on the main Rongbuk Glacier by looking at photographs taken in 1921 and in 2007.The loss of ice and snow is simply stunning. It’s hard to argue with climate change when you see such a stark difference over the course of a lifetime. The pictures are fantastic, even without the scare-mongering. I want to go to the Himalayas, even if I will probably NEVER be in good enough shape to hike in the near vicinity of Mt. Everest.

China Green: The Big Melt
A video on the rapidly disappearing glaciers of China. The video is seven minutes long and has Chinese subtitles. It focuses on several mountains in the Tibetan Plateau, not just Mt. Everest. Tibet is known as the “Roof of the World”, but this region also serves as the headwaters for all the major rivers in Asia – the Yellow River, Ganges River, Indus River, and Mekong River all draw their sources from the Tibet-Qinghai plateau. China Green also has some other interesting videos on desertification in China, the problem of pollution, etc.

ECO Everest
A Nepalese Sherpa, Ang Tshering Sherpa, has started a movement to clean up the hiking debris from mountaineer’s attempts to climb Mt. Everest. As the levels of snow grow lower, more refuse from fifty years worth of hiking becomes visible and as the number of attempts climb, the amount of garbage grows, despite the Nepalese government imposing strict penalties on littering. Since they started in 2008, they have brought down “more than 12,000 kilos of previous expedition garbage”for proper disposal.

There were also quite a few journal articles, but they’re a little esoteric to people outside the field. (Hell, they were hard for me to read and I like this stuff.) Also, they’re hidden behind a JSTOR paywall. However, if you feel the need to read anything like “Sustainable Management of Alpine Meadows on the Tibetan Plateau: Problems Overlooked and Suggestions for Change” or “The Headwater Loss of the Western Plateau Exacerbates China’s Long Thirst”, let me know and I will totally send you the .pdf files.

On Monday, we’ll be talking about the language of Tibet and why I already want to bang my head against a wall and cry. See you then!


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