Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2017’

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High in the Garhwal Himalaya, running SE-NW,…

High in the Garhwal Himalaya, running SE-NW, is one of the region’s biggest and most important glaciers: the Gangotri. @pedromcbride, @davidcmorton, and I were near the top of this 30km glacier 4 years ago, beginning to tell the story of the Ganges River. (This clip is a segment of our film, “Holy (un)Holy River.) The Ganges, which sustains 500 million people along its 1600 mile course, erupts from the toe of the glacier at Gaumukh, or Cow’s Mouth, some 25+ km below where we were. As we trudged up the glacier, dwarfed by the towering walls of Chaukhamba, supraglacial streams roared past us on all sides, the first bits of the Ganges flowing free and pure at nearly 18,000 feet. The trouble was there should not be major supraglacial flow here, high on the glacier, well within the zone of accumulation. This should be the land of ice, of glacial might and power, but instead showed distinct signs of struggle and poor glacial health. Like most of the region, the Gangotri Glacier is in a state of sharp decline, retreating roughly 20 meters (66 feet) per year, and nearly 2km (1.2 miles) since 1935. A recent article in @guardian, (see link in profile), citing research by the journal #Nature, indicates that even with the 1.5° C target from Paris, the Hindu Kush Himalaya – which run 3,500 miles from Afghanistan to Myanmar – would see an average increase of 2.3° C, or a little over 4° F. The projected result is a 29-43% loss in the Himalayan glaciers by 2100. As the largest mass of ice outside the polar regions, the Himalayan glaciers are an incredible store of freshwater and critical to the flows of the world’s great rivers: the Ganges, Brahmaputra/Yarlung Tsang Po, Indus, Irrawaddy, and more. No, these glaciers won’t disappear completely anytime soon. But, their rapid retreat will have a major impact on all those that live downstream, altering micro-climates, river flows, agricultural production and stability, and more. May we as a nation and as humans find the courage to act and do what we can to minimize our impact and take the long view for the better of everyone. #liveyouradventure #mountainsmatter

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As he gazed out on Venezuela’s Lake…

As he gazed out on Venezuela’s Lake Valencia in 1800, Alexander von Humboldt – who was born on this day in 1769 – being the amazing polymath he was, connected the myriad dots of lake level decrease, deforestation, and human induced micro-climate change, and was able to see the natural environment in which he was immersed as a vast, interconnected web…an idea that defied scientific conventions at the time. As he noted, “Everything is interaction and reciprocal.” Humboldt was arguably the grandfather of much of modern​ science – Darwin likely would not have gone on the Beagle if not for Humboldt, and thus there would be no “Origin of Species” – and was a huge influence on the modern understanding of our world, environment, and need to protect it. He was a friend – and critic – of Thomas Jefferson, influenced the philosophy and writing of John Muir, and a remarkable adventurer as well, floating the Orinoco, traveling much of the Andes, and setting a world altitude record in 1802 when he reached 19,286 feet of Ecuador’s Chimborazo (thought to be the highest mountain in the world at the time). But, more than anything, Humboldt was a visionary thinker, a scientist of the whole rather than the part, and while much of his writing and legacy is lost in America these days (thanks to anti-German purges post WWI), his thoughts and concepts resonate more than ever:
“The most dangerous worldviews are the worldviews of those who have never viewed the world.”
“Before being free, it is necessary to be just.” “…but there are no races nobler than others. All are equally destined for freedom.”
“Our imagination is struck only by what is great; but the lover of natural philosophy should reflect equally on little things.”
“By felling the trees which cover the tops and sides of mountains, men in all climates seem to bring upon future generations two calamities at once; want of fuel and a scarcity of water.”
If you want to learn more about this amazing man, read “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World” by Andrea Wulf. #liveyouradventure #alexandervonhumboldt | Here, Mitre Peak is reflected in tide pools at Milford Sound, New Zealand.

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It’s hard to believe that it was…

It’s hard to believe that it was 4 years ago that @pedromcbride, @davidcmorton, and I sat in Rishikesh, India, watching the spectacle of devotion that is Ganga Aarti, and preparing for a 45-day, 1600-mile journey down the most revered and reviled river in the world. Our trip following the Ganges took us from 18,000 feet in the Garhwal Himalaya – some 20 kilometers above Gaumukh on the Gangotri Glacier – through the lower hills, across the steaming and teeming Indo-Gangetic Plains to the Bay of Bengal. Three long years later, our experiences and all we learned came together in a labor of love of a film, Holy (un)Holy River. It’s been screening at a lot of festivals over the past year, and has quite a few more to come in India, Czech Republic, Austria, San Francisco, and more. Check the link in my profile, or go to
https://www.holyunholyriver.com/schedule, to learn more and maybe catch the film near you. #liveyouradventure #gangas2s #gangaaction @natgeo @eddiebauer

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