Tibet’s environment is particularly delicate, and the Chinese occupants are much less eco-conscious than the Tibetans.
Because many of the Tibetan people live directly off the land upon which they inhabit, a diminished ecosystem, damaged by deforestation or poor soil/water quality, directly affects the day-to-day lives of Tibetan citizens. Also, because much of Tibet is high and dry, the land takes much longer to recover from damage than other climates, so even if the Chinese were to withdraw today, their mark on Tibet would go on for much longer.
Deforestation can even affect the monsoons of Tibet by changing the amout of absorbed solar radiation.
The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyastso, is worried about the world’s environment overall, but another reason is that he is also the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born in Taktser Amdo, northeastern Tibet – although he currently lives in exile in Dharamsala, northern India – the current seat of the Tibetan political administration in exile.
There are also a number of very tangible reasons as to why the Dalai Lama, as (the above poster states) the exiled head of the Tibetan state, is highly concerned about Tibet’s environment. These include amongst others the completion of the recent Qinghai-Tibet Railway linking China with Tibet – the resulting “increase in inexpensive industrial products brought in by the railway had begun filling local rivers with trash“.
The most recent reason is the suggested daming of the Brahmaputra/Yarlung Tsangpo river, which, if completed would constitute the largest hydro-electric project in the world. The potential negative environmental impact of such a project would be immense. States Peter Bosshard of the watchdog International Rivers, “a large dam on the Tibetan plateau would amount to a major, irreversible experiment with geo-engineering…Blocking the Yarlung Tsangpo could devastate the fragile ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau, and would withhold the river’s sediments from the fertile floodplains of Assam in north-east India, and Bangladesh” (Dam construction has had a huge human toll as well. According to the New York Times, Chinese dam construction projects have resulted in the cumulative displacement of approximately 23 million people).
For much more information on the huge environmental toll of Chinese actions in Tibet see:
As well as the NY Times piece and the International Rivers site listed below.
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