Himalayan Algae to Snow Leopards at Risk From Climate Change

Changing weather patterns and unbridled deforestation in the Himalayan region are putting at risk 133 of the country’s endangered species of flora and fauna.

The warning came at a seminar in Almora from Dec. 9-11, which was attended by scientists from several institutes including the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Nature Conservation Foundation, Pantnagar University, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu (Nepal), IIT Roorkee, Central Agricultural University Sikkim and BSIP Lucknow, the Times of India newspaper reported.

The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle, with serious climate change unfolding before our eyes.

“Scientists maintained that if the global warming trends in the Himalayan region remain as they are, severalĀ floraĀ species of fungus, algae and lichen besides fauna species like bharal, snow leopards and musk deer will disappear from Himalayan region,” R S Rawal, Director of G B Pant National Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development that hosted the event said.

Burning fossil fuels, deforestation and tree-clearing, agriculture and farming and industrial activities have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. There is a good 95% probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.

Global warming has also started affecting crops in the region as an increase of one degree in temperature has led to a decrease in wheat production ranging between 15% to 20%, according to a paper presented by P R Ojaswai, Director of Dehradun-based Indian institute of Soil and Water Conservation. That one-degree increase will cause paddy crops production to decrease by 6% while crops like maize will disappear from the fields.