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International Mountain Day: Knowledge of street-smart Folk who live in Mountains, if combined with Research can develop effective responses to Climate Change

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries and is the source of 10 large Asian river systems

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Representational image. Pixabay

Shimla, December 11, 2016: The knowledge of street-smart folk who live in the mountains, combined with research, can work together to develop effective responses to climate change and its impact on ecosystems and livelihoods, experts say.

There is potential to mobilise traditional knowledge to provide place-based evidence on climate change and its impact on ecosystems and livelihoods, said researchers Nawraj Pradhan and Abhimanyu Pandey of the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

Similarly, local knowledge and research could work together to develop effective responses that sustain biological and cultural diversity for adaptation in future.

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“If managed well, various facets of tangible and intangible cultural heritage can be long-term assets. They can represent an innovative way of achieving sustainable development goals and, as such, produce better livelihoods, food and water security, and effective climate change mitigation efforts,” they said in a report, “Mountain Cultures: Celebrating Diversity and Strengthening Identity for Years”.

Pradhan is Associate Coordinator with Kailash Sacred landscape Conservation and Development Initiative, while Pandey is Cultural Services Analyst in the livelihood Theme.
The Paris Agreement of December 2015 recognises that adaptation actions should follow a “participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable communities and ecosystems”.

Mountains cover nearly 27 percent of the world’s land surface and directly support 22 percent of the world’s people. They serve as water towers to the world, providing for the freshwater needs of more than half of humanity.

The Hindu Kush Himalayas are one of the world’s most diverse mountains systems, spanning 4.3 million sq. km. of land across eight countries — from Afghanistan to Myanmar.

Over millennia, communities in these landscapes have maintained a close relationship with the natural resources and surroundings that provide their livelihoods.

The researchers said the mountains were not studied as cohesive systems, but in recent decades, research is providing a more holistic understanding of mountain environments, and how they contribute to overall human well-being in the context of social, economic and environmental changes.

The Hindu Kush Himalayas present some of the most austere geo-climatic conditions in the world, encompassing the barren wilds of the Tibetan Plateau, the cold semi-arid zones of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the sweltering rainforests of northeastern India and Myanmar.

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Such diverse climate, however, has not deterred vast migrations, interactions and evolution of human communities in the Hindu Kush Himalayas over the course of history.

Until recently, said the researchers, traditional knowledge and practices provided the basis for the well-being and livelihood of indigenous mountain communities.

Consequently, mountain communities enjoyed an intangible, even spiritual, connection to the elements of nature. However, in recent decades, global media connectivity and the inclusion of once far-distant regions into national planning has ushered in the forces of globalisation, consumerism and, often, top-down governance regimes.

This has accelerated the pace of change in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, often upsetting the particularities of the mountains and their socio-ecological balance.

Of course, not all the change has been negative. Modern advances in healthcare, education and economic opportunity have improved mountain livelihoods and often worked to dissipate some oppressive traditional socio-economic hierarchies.

However, these advances have also caused some ruptures in traditional community fabrics and a loss of interest in preserving local knowledge and cultural traditions.

“Therefore, it’s critical for research institutions like ICIMOD to take a serious approach to understanding the traditional cultural worldviews of mountain communities,” the researchers said.

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The Hindu Kush Himalayan region extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries and is the source of 10 large Asian river systems, including the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra.

The basins of these rivers provide water to 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world’s population.

In India, the Hindu Kush Himalayas and adjacent mountain areas include 11 mountain states — Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. (IANS)

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Trump EPA Finalizes Rollback of Key Obama Climate Rule that Targeted Coal Plants

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America's 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans

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Trump, Obama, Climate
EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks with the media at the Environmental Protection Agency, June 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States as scientists continue to warn countries to rapidly cut emissions to prevent the most drastic effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s initiative to cut global warming emissions from coal plants.

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America’s 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans by encouraging coal plants to improve their efficiency.

By contrast, the Clean Power Plan was designed to slash power plant carbon emissions by more than one-third from 2005 levels by 2030 by pushing utilities to replace coal with cleaner fuels like natural gas, solar and wind.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. VOA

The Obama-era plan was never enacted, however, because of lawsuits filed by Republican states and hundreds of companies. The Supreme Court halted its enactment in February 2016.

“States will be given the flexibility to design a plan that best suits their citizens environmental and energy needs, according to a summary of the new rules,” according to a summary of the ruling.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at a Washington news conference, “Our ACE rule will incentivize new technology which will ensure coal plants will be part of a cleaner future.”

But environmentalists, many Democratic lawmakers and some state attorneys general have labeled the new rules the “Dirty Power Plan,” maintaining they will lead to increases in carbon emissions and other pollutants over the next few decades.

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“At a time when Americans are urging us to take meaningful climate action and reduce our carbon footprint, today’s Dirty Power Plan is a failure of vision and leadership,” said Joe Goffman, executive director of Harvard University’s Environmental & Energy Law Program.

Even the EPA’s own regulatory analysis last year estimated Trump’s ACE rule would kill an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of more air pollution from the U.S. power grid.

Trump has, nevertheless, dismissed scientific warnings on climate change, including a report this year from scientists at more than a dozen federal agencies noting that global warming from fossil fuels “presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life.”

Trump promised early in his presidency to kill the Clean Power Plan as part of an effort to revive the ailing coal industry, contending it exceeded the federal government’s authority.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan. Pixabay

Wednesday’s announcement to overturn Obama-era climate rules is part of a broader Trump administration effort to roll back “a multitude of health, safety environmental and consumer protections at the behest of corporate interests,” the non-profit consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen concluded in a report released in May.

The report said shortly after Trump took office in early 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent the Trump administration a list of 132 regulations that “concerned” members and detailed their “preferred course of action to address its concerns on each of the regulations.”

The report concluded that “Regulatory agencies have granted or are working on granting 85 percent of the wishes related to rulemakings on a list of deregulatory demands submitted” by NAM.

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The new rule is expected to take effect within 30 days. (VOA)