The recent post on Jatrophetic prompted me to post this news about glacial retreat in Kyrgyzstan. Geologists have recently brought to attention the significant melting of Kyrgyz glaciers Adigene and Petrova. This story is only one in a series of warnings surrounding global glacial retreat in countries around the world. From Kilamanjaro to the Himalayas, we are seeing a threat to water supply across the board.
As in the case of the Kyrgyz glaciers, many countries may depend on one country’s glacier, or maybe the mountain borders more than one country. Many of these countries that share borders and water supply may at best have differing political interests, and at worst, have ethnic conflicts to add to the mix.
Given this global climate (no pun intended) of ethnic and religious tensions, it’s important to keep watch on how resources are managed. Kyrgyzstan is well endowed with fresh water, the majority of which can be attributed to their glaciers. Uzbekistan, on the other hand, is not, and relies on basins which connect to river systems in both Kyrgystan and Tajikistan. Glacial melting aside, the entire central asian region is plagued with poor water management, leading to contamination, improper irrigation, and uneven distribution of existing water resources.
While the neighboring countries of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan may have more pressing concerns politically, socially, and economically, the melting of Kyrgyz glaciers is cause for concern as water scarcity becomes an imminent reality, and may very well become a deciding factor in political/military decisions in the next 20 years.