Ecological Issues Facing Mount Everest
If ever there was an icon symbolizing the allure, grandeur, and mystique of planet earth’s natural beauty, it is undoubtedly Mount Everest. This towering peak, believed to be the highest point anywhere on our world’s surface, has always captivated climbers, adventurers, scientists, and environmentalists alike. However, as human activities increase on and near Everest, several pressing ecological issues have come to the forefront.
Colossal Waste Problem
Explorations, climbing expeditions, and tourism are producing an overwhelming amount of waste, leading to increased pollution in the Everest region. It’s been noted that climbers often discard used gear, oxygen cylinders, food packaging, human waste, and even the bodies of those who perished, leading to what is now known as “the world’s highest garbage dump.” This creates an unhealthy and unsightly environment, disrupting the natural ecosystem.
Climate change also plays an ominous role in the issues facing Mount Everest. The rapidly warming earth is melting the glaciers surrounding Everest, leading to an increasing number of dangerous glacial lakes that could burst, causing havoc down the mountain’s slopes. This continuous melting of glaciers threatens the water source for millions of people down in the valleys who rely on glacial runoff for their daily water needs.
Flora and Fauna under threat
Human activity on Mount Everest doesn’t just have an impact on the mountain itself but also disrupts the habitat of wildlife. Persistent expeditions and increased construction of infrastructure to support climbers disrupt the once tranquil homes of many species. With increased human intrusion, wildlife is either fleeing or perishing, causing a significant decrease in biodiversity.
Overcrowding and Over Exploitation
The fame of Everest has also led to an influx of climbers, causing severe overcrowding especially during peak climbing season. Overcrowding, compounded by the lack of infrastructure to manage it, not only poses dangers to the climbers but also puts undue pressure on the delicate mountain ecosystem. Over-exploitation of the local resources to cater to the mounting tourist and climber needs is depleting the environment rapidly.
Mount Everest isn’t just a gorgeous summit that’s on the bucket list of every avid climber. It is an ecosystem rich in life and history and is therefore in desperate need of our care and consideration. The calamitous ecological issues plaguing this serene icon are entirely of human making. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to rectify it before it’s too late.
Q1: What type of litter is predominantly found in Mount Everest?
A1: The trash predominantly left behind is a mixture of used gear like tents, ropes, and other mountain climbing equipment, empty oxygen cylinders, food packaging, and of course, human waste.
Q2: Why is glacial meltdown a concern for the surrounding regions?
A2: The glaciers’ meltdown can result in potentially disastrous glacial floods, and pose a threat to the water supply of millions living down in the valleys, as they heavily rely on glacial runoff for their water needs.
Q3: How does human intrusion affect Everest’s fauna?
A3: The noise and pollution, and the increased construction of infrastructure disrupt the habitat of the local wildlife, causing them to flee or perish, leading to a decrease in biodiversity. Some species may even become extinct in this region.
Q4: How is overcrowding affecting the climbing experience?
A4: The overcrowding is causing ‘traffic jams’ at certain challenging points, increasing the likelihood of accidents and exposure-related health problems. It has also led to increased environmental footprint.
Q5: What can be done to reduce the environmental impact on Everest?
A5: Solutions could include setting stricter norms for climbers on waste disposal, limiting the yearly numbers of climbers, investing in sustainable infrastructure, and promoting responsible tourism practices.