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What Is Going On Today

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The issue of water scarcity is a global issue that is gaining momentum as the world is realizing the importance of environmental protection.  Identified as the “third pole” of the world, what happens in the Tibetan Plateau is important for the ecology of the region in addition to the lives of billions of people in the basins.  Many other conflicts over water are occurring in the world today including the Tigris-Euphrates River, the Nile Basin, and the Parana-La Plata Basin.


In Tibet today the glaciers are receding faster than any other place in the world at a rate of three feet per year, as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  This coupled with the unwillingness of the Chinese government to responsibly dam the rivers out of Tibet make this issue explosive and potentially lethal.

At the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 an organization called “Tibet Third Pole” is currently lobbying for protection of Tibetan nomads as well as for the stopping of ecological degradation.  What China is doing in terms of dam building coupled with global warming is having detrimental effects on the people of the Tibetan Plateau as well as those downstream. In efforts to better the severly neglected environment in Tibet, China has also forced nomads to discontinue their traditional movements on the plateau. Lands are fenced off (see image on the right) so that families and livestock will not wander into these areas. China justifies their actions by saying that removing the nomads from certain lands will replenish the land, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. In this way the issue of water on the Tibetan Plateau is not just about a dwindling resource but also, the state termination of a traditional lifestyle thousands of years old.