From: Associated Press
Published November 17, 2004 12:00 AM

Melting Glaciers Said to Be Threatening Everest

LONDON − Melting glaciers caused by climate change pose an urgent threat to Mount Everest's unique environment, activists said Wednesday, launching a campaign to protect the Himalayan mountain range and the world's highest peak.


Lakes have swollen from runoff, and unless urgent action is taken, many lakes could burst, threatening the lives of thousands of people and destroying the environment, said the campaigners -- a collection of mountaineers, Nepalese climbers and the Friends of the Earth, an environmental lobbying organization.


The group will present a petition Thursday asking in Paris asking UNESCO, the United Nation's cultural agency, to place Nepal's Everest National Park on its World Heritage in Danger List.


Friends of the Earth international climate spokeswoman Catherine Pearce said it would be the first time UNESCO's World Heritage Committee had been asked to consider sites endangered by climate change.


The environmentalists also said climate change threatens the coral reefs in Belize and glaciers in Peru, and will submit petitions to include them on the endangered list.


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More than 700 sites are currently on the U.N. Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization's endangered list. Inclusion of the Everest park would commit UNESCO to assessing the risk to the area and developing "corrective measures" in conjunction with the government of Nepal.


The climate change problems in Nepal, Belize and Peru were caused by greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries, the group said, adding that it will ask the World Heritage Committee to press countries around the world to reduce the emissions.


Peter Roderick, director of Climate Justice Program, a London-based environmental group, said damage to glaciers and coral reefs had served as warning signs of the impact of climate change.


"The World Heritage Committee must urgently investigate these sites and ensure that everything necessary is done to maintain their world heritage status, to keep people safe and to pass them on intact to future generations," Roderick said.


British mountaineer Chris Bonnington said the Everest National Park had some of the finest mountain scenery in the world.


"Both the beauty of this magnificent area and the livelihoods of its inhabitants are threatened by global warming," Bonnington said.


Source: Associated Press


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