Earth Day: Health Crisis at the Third Pole

Earth Day is a time to become aware of what is happening here and now.

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Chinmaya Dunster talks to the farmers of the Himalayas

You know when things aren’t right with your health, don’t you?
A general feeling of debilitation, low energy levels, catching every bug that comes around, loss of appetite, pain.

We, the farmers of the Himalayas, have the same feelings about the mountains we have lived among for generations. They are sick.

The rains no longer come on time and then arrive in great destructive storms. We used to water our crops with snowmelt, now we watch the glaciers retreating before our eyes. Rivers that used to run all year long now flood in spring, washing away our fields, and then dry out by summer, so that we have to go further and further to fetch water.

We know the cause: as a result of human emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, our climate is warming. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent all over the world.

Why does it matter to you what happens to us in our remote mountain homes?

Firstly because the Himalayas are a ‚third pole’ of planet Earth, storing fresh water in glaciers and streams. They feed ten of the largest rivers on our planet (among them Pakistan’s Indus, India’s Ganges, South-east Asia’s Mekong and China’s Yangtse)and provide life-giving waters to one fifth of humanity (more than a billion people).

Watch this beautiful video with all the details:

Secondly, the Himalayas are acting as an early warning system for planet Earth. Temperatures here have risen at twice the global average over the past ten years. Four-fifths of their glaciers are in retreat. They are early test results that indicate how serious the sickness is likely to be over the whole body.

So why do we smile?

You see in the video that we are smiling. With all this happening why do we smile?  We smile to you in greeting, knowing that we are all connected on this dust speck as it goes round the sun. We smile because our lives are still lived amidst great beauty: clean skies and rivers; verdant forests filled with rare animals and plants; healthy home-grown organic food. We smile because we don’t want our children to worry. Even though we are worried about them. For the predictions for their future are not so rosy. Unless action is taken our rivers may run dry for much of the year, our forests dry out and burn, our farming becomes impossible.

May we say it? We are not the cause of global climate change, even though we are the first to suffer from it. The average North American emits TWENTY times as much greenhouse gas as the average Indian. But we are not here to blame you. We simply ask you to think carefully, because we will ALL suffer the consequences unless action is taken.

You know what to do when your health is poor, don’t you? Consult a healer. The doctors are very clear about what is causing Planet Earth’s sickness. One (Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) puts it well. Today we have reached a point where consumption and people’s desire to consume has grown out of proportion. The reality is our lifestyle is unsustainable.“

We smile and hope you remember us. Our children and yours will grow up together. What kind of a world are we going to bequeath them?

Chinmaya Dunster,  composer, musician, record producer, filmmaker and sarod player. His work can be explored at Chinmaya   Chinmaya is also involved with environmental/social justice issues in his adopted homeland, India, which takes him around India with the Green Ragas Band. He also creates awareness-raising films on these issues.


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4 thoughts on “Earth Day: Health Crisis at the Third Pole”

  1. Beautifully done Chinmaya.

    Recently spent two months in Dharamkot two km above Dharamshala and Mcleod Gang.

    Love it there so much with the warm, smiling people and fresh clean air. People there are noticing a difference in the weather and are affected by it.

    Eforts in the USA where I am now are being made by many i know to live a more sustainable and simple life but many more need to be reached for significant change to happen.

    Your effort will help to reach some of them. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this, Chinmaya. I have posted it on various pages on facebook. Your writing and music, and the smile of that beautiful child are so moving.

  3. An absolutely beautiful message and video. Thank you so much. Amazingly it compliments the way I think and live today. The message must be spread to more people.

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