March 14, 2012

A Fishtail Story

There are many reasons I’ve always loved coming to Pokhara. At the top of the list: visiting Ramesh, Laxmi, and their son Rahel – my “adopted” Nepali family. 

Another friend I’ve always looked forward to seeing is Mt. Machhapuchhre, otherwise known as Fishtail, for its shape. Only 17 miles from Fewa Lake, it is thought to be a sacred mountain – where climbing is restricted – and it is certainly a feast for the eyes and a muse for poets from around the world.

And, in all my previous trips to Pokhara, at different times of the year, it has been covered in snow.

Here’s how I’ve always seen it. At this angle, you can see the fishtail shape along the right top:

Or, another snowy view of my good friend:

And here’s how it looks now:

Wondering if this disappearing snow might be a phenomenon only this year, I did some quick searching, and found this article from from TWO years ago:
Mt. Machhapuchhre that graces the tourist town of Pokhara used to be smothered in snow this time of the year, but this year turned out different. 
With no snowfall so far, most part of the mountain is dull, rugged and grey. Locals say the peak’s splendid glory was then when it used to be covered under a blanket of snow, now it looks botched. Like Pokhara locals, tourists are disappointed as well. 
“Seeing no snow in the mountain, it feels like Pokhara has lost its charm,” said Jaya Sharma, a visitor from Kathmandu. 
Geologist Krishna KC said mountains have very little snow this year, and in case of Machhapuchhre, it got betrayed due to its steepness, which gives very little room for snow to hold on. 
He added that the snowless mountain is symptomatic of climate change and global warming. 
“The Hilly region is experiencing a yearly rise in temperature by 0.4 degree Celsius. Temperature is on upward trajectory, so there is less snow in the mountains,” he said. 
Experts claimed the mountains started stripping off noticeably since last year, this time the situation got more palpable. “It is all rocks now,” meteorologist Bikram Shrestha said. 
“It takes rain to snow, but we are receiving less rainfall for the last few years, which means that we’re receiving little snow.” 
He added water in rivers and other water sources would start getting low if there is no snowfall.
At lunch on the terrace yesterday, I was joined by a Brit who is also staying at the hotel. I mentioned to him how sad it was to see this sign of global warming. He replied that:
  • He wasn't sure there was such a thing as global warming, mentioning the expose of “climate-change” errors in one study by British scientists.
  • Even if there is global warming, there's no evidence it has anything to with human activities.
  • Venus is experiencing similar warming, so climate shifts are caused by solar changes, not by people.
  • The proposed carbon tax would only make money for Al Gore.
 I changed the subject.

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