A Glacier in Italy is Turning Pink. And That’s Not Good News For South Asia Also

A glacier in Italy is turning pink because of algae — a development that will make the ice melt faster, a scientist studying the phenomenon told CNN.

Also, this giant glacier in Antarctica is melting, and it could raise sea levels by 5 feet, scientists say.

Unprecedented melting is seeing Swiss glaciers shrink 10% in five years, a report says.

Glaciers around the world are melting due to climate change, and this latest research shows the extent of the problem in Switzerland.

According to reports, Switzerland has lost more than 500 glaciers since 1900.

Down south, Pakistan’s huge glacial formations are part of the whole that wrap the Himalaya’s skirt (from Bangladesh in the east to Afghanistan in the west) –they are all at risk.

Pakistan’s glaciers are more than anywhere except in the polar region (North and South Pole). The country’s northern part Gilgit Baltistan (GB) is known as the Land of Glaciers.

However, global warming has seen the Chiatibo Glacier in Broghil National Park retreat by about 30 feet a year due to higher temperatures melting the ice.

The glacial range of Hindu Kush and the Karakoram is the region’s water tower –their mountains provide water for 1.6 billion people of the region called South Asia.

The glacial range runs its westerly course through the northwestern part of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Here, there are more than 5,000 reasonable sized glaciers, but almost 70% of them are retreating, according to Dr. Furrukh Bashir of the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

It is one of the around 7,000 of Pakistan’s 7,200 glaciers that meteorological officials say show signs of melting, citing data gathered over the last 50 years.

The first threat that brings, as these glaciers melt in the warmer air and the runoff flows downstream toward communities along riverbanks, is flooding.

The second is the depletion of the huge water supply locked away in their ice.

Gholam Murtaza, the Islamabad Bureau Chief of local national TV channel BOL says, “When glaciers melt, diseases like viral, bacteria, fossils and other biological species also wake up which could be harmful for humans.”

“Are we (also) ready to deal with new type of things, syndromes, diseases etc. also. Has this angle been explored?”.

There will be recovery from the pandemic, but at terrible cost, according to Noam Chomsky. (However) “there will be no recovery from the melting of the polar ice sheets, the glaciers in the Himalayas or the other dire effects of global warming – which will render much of South Asia uninhabitable if the world persists on its present course, and not in the distant future,” warns Chomsky.

According to a Pakistani analyst, “Unfortunately we will not be able to do much about it; it needs global effort or at least a regional approach.”

That’s not good news for the region and for the Himalayas where a quarter of humanity are dependent on these glaciers.

Scientific communities have agreed global warming is causing glacial retreat. “These glaciers are retreating and telling you that climate change is real, global warming is real.” A quarter of humanity are dependent on these glaciers”, Bashir said.

The most recent scientific studies estimate that the world may be reaching that level (of global warming) in 50 years, “on our present course”, Chomsky has warned.

How the region can participate in changing the course?

“China, India and Pakistan will have to come together, but the current and emerging situation makes chances of such a cooperation remote,” says the analyst.

Independent observers, experts and professionals we talked to, say the three nations have to heed to Chomsky’s warnings and come together on it from civilizational standpoint. A more severe Pandemic than COVID-19 has been predicted: Glaciers turning pink in Italy may be the optic we all need to shake us up from our cold perceptions to the hot reality of climate change.

Second of a series of reports on melting glaciers challenges for Pakistan

Melting Glaciers of the 3rd Pole
Another, Probably More Severe Pandemic Has Been Predicted: Noam Chomsky