Michael Buckley points out that China’s relentless exploitation of Tibet’s resources could spell environmental disaster for Asia.
The Dalai Lama was the first to suggest that tackling Tibet’s looming environmental crisis deserves precedence over efforts to resolve its protracted political problem. According to WikiLeaks, in a meeting between the Dalai Lama and the American ambassador to India, Timothy J Roemer, on 10 August 2009 in New Delhi, the Tibetan spiritual leader recommended that America lead the international community to engage China on climate change in Tibet. The Dalai Lama said that Tibetans could wait five to 10 years for a political solution to the issue of Tibet. Melting glaciers, deforestation and increasingly polluted water from rampant mining were problems that ‘cannot wait.’ These mounting environmental challenges on the Roof of the World are the focus of Michael Buckley’s stunning new book, Meltdown in Tibet, to be launched in November. Meltdown joins a growing chorus of voices that cry foul on China’s development juggernaut rolling across the Tibetan plateau, triggering deforestation, increased flooding downstream, permafrost melting and polluted rivers. In his groundbreaking study, Water: Asia’s New Battleground, Brahma Chellaney, says water is Asia’s new oil. River waters of Tibet are Asia’s lifeline. Buckley, a travel writer and an environmentalist, brings this chorus to a higher pitch. His book draws attention to the critical importance of Tibet’s environment to the sustainability of development of Asia and even to the survival of the continent’s billions who live downstream. Buckley’s argument is that Asia can ignore what China is doing in Tibet at its own peril. He says, “We have only one Tibet. There are no backups, no second chances. If the water resources of the Tibetan plateau should be blocked or diverted or become polluted, then Asia will tumble into chaos.”Hindustan_Times_(Chandigarh)(2014-07-26)_page15
Tibet is the world’s highest and largest plateau consisting of 2.5 million sq km, stretching 2,400km from west to east and 1,448 from north to south. Tibet’s average elevation is 4,000m from sea level and its mountains thrust almost three miles up into the sky. Its rarefied air makes the Asian monsoon. Tibet is the world’s Third Pole and Asia’s Water Tower, being the repository of the largest concentration of glaciers outside of the two poles. These glaciers feed Asia’s ten major river systems that originate from Tibet and sustain more than two billions downstream. The reality is that China, firmly ensconced in Tibet, has its determined but unpredictable hand on Asia’s water tap.[Source]