A group of scientists that includes Doon’s own Dr Dhirendra Sharma has urged the global community to recognise the Himalaya Mountains as the ‘Third Pole’. The significance of this lies in the fact that the mountain range not only plays a significant role in determining climatic conditions, but it remains a largely unexplored region, particularly from the point of view of scientific studies. Dr Sharma and his colleagues feel that considered from this point of view, it is necessary to declare it a non-militarised and no war zone. Fighting a war in this region would not only further destabilise the environment of an already adversely impacted region, it could also destroy scientific information that has not yet been discovered in various fields of study.
It may be noted that there have for long existed conventions and regulations regarding human activity at the North and South Poles. Not just the countries adjacent, but also others have staked a claim on these regions for scientific studies, which is why India has had research stations established there for long. It may be noted that these regions provide many clues on issues such as climate change. Rising global temperatures have led to glacial meltdown that threatens low lying areas and islands around the world. There is an entire eco-system that survives on the delicately balanced environment there. The sight of polar bears stranded on ice that has broken up because of the meltdown has been captured by photographers, indicating the plight of the local flora and fauna.
Unfortunately, while there is awareness about the North and South Poles, even if there is not enough corrective global action, the Himalayas remain almost absent from human consciousness in this regard, despite their equal importance. Unrestrained jingoism and ill-considered human activity, particularly in terms of mega-construction projects, could be causing irreversible damage. It is necessary, therefore, to exercise restraint and focus more on learning what these mountains have to teach humanity.
This is probably the psychologically most suitable time to push forward a ‘global’ approach to the common threats faced by the planet’s living beings, as Covid-19 has shown how all the grand posturing of ‘advanced’ economies and nuclear powers counts for little in the face of problems created by breaks in the fundamental structure of things. Many governments around the world do not give the necessary priority to issues such as climate change, pollution, destruction of eco-systems, etc. Hopefully, these will be attended to more. This should include a greater respect and concern for the Himalayas.