Human-Induced Climate Change Takes its Toll On Our Tallest Peaks?

everest base camp tents

by Tina Kusal – Mountains are the perfect escape. No matter how tall the peak, it is always just enough to lift you above the chaos of the everyday world. A place to rejuvenate. A place to breathe. But, what happens when the everyday chaos we create takes this away from us? 

It is no secret that climate change is and continues to be a threat to us all. Sadly, it seems that Mother Nature is taking a bigger hit than we are. What is perhaps even sadder, is that we are the cause. And even, the highest peaks cannot escape the grasp of climate change. 

Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, offers unrivaled natural beauty for all, and the ultimate climbing adventure for some. And every day, it is slowly disappearing. 

As Earth’s global temperatures continue to rise, melting snow and sublimation cause Everest’s glacial mass to decline.

The 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition discovered that in the last quarter-century, 55 meters of glacial thinning has occurred. A rate of thinning that is over 8 times faster than the 2,000 years it took for ice to form at the mountain’s surface. 

You don’t have to be an extreme mountain climber to see the sadness of this situation. The highest I’ve been is Lake Tahoe’s Mt. Tallac, whose 9,735 ft is barely halfway to Everest’s Base Camp. Yet, I appreciate the majestic beauty of any of Mother Nature’s creations. And it saddens me that human activity is the reason this beauty is fading.

Tibetan prayer flags at mount everest

The rapid melting of snow and sublimation of ice does more than shrink our mountains. It increases the incidence of avalanches, it results in exposed bedrock which makes climbing adventures more difficult, and for Everest specifically, it decreases the capacity of the glacier to store water that over 1 billion people depend on for drinking and irrigation.

Since the Industrial Revolution, human activity has gradually created a global climate problem. However, the devastation has reached new heights and glacial systems like Everest are now under threat. 

Human-induced climate change has been the most intense since the late 1990’s, and the recent exploration confirmed that surface ice loss across the globe will only get worse. Using model simulations based on the collected data, loss of surface mass by melting is expected to accelerate by a factor of more than 20. 

There is something to be said about the peace and beauty of mountains. With every season comes new colors, wildlife, adventure, the freshest air, and a complete sense of freedom you get each time you reach a peak. All the while, the next peak offers a new challenge and inspiration. 

If we do not make changes this inspirational backdrop will be lost. And we will only have ourselves to blame. 

a long line of climbers ascend mount everest

But, since we were the cause of climate change, we can also be the solution. A sentiment I have been talking to my son about since he was a baby and which shapes a lifestyle we are both passionate about today. 

We can all do our part to lower our carbon footprint. Reduce, reuse, recycle. It may not seem like much but if each of the 7.8 billion people on the planet takes these small steps, we can protect the planet, and Everest, in a big way. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Kusal grew up in England and has traveled extensively through Europe, Asia, and Australia. She works as a freelance writer, blogger, and author. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her son and is always ready for the next adventure.

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