Scientist warns of Everest dangers from pollution, melting

In this file photo taken on May 17, 2018, mountaineers make their way to the summit of Mount Everest, as they ascend on the south face from Nepal. (AFP / Phunjo Lama)
Updated 05 June 2019

Scientist warns of Everest dangers from pollution, melting

  • Warming temperatures melting the glaciers and the snow around Mount Everest very quickly, says researcher

KATMANDU, Nepal: Mount Everest and its surrounding peaks are increasingly polluted and warmer, and nearby glaciers are melting at an alarming rate that is likely to make it more dangerous for future climbers, a US scientist who spent weeks in the Everest region said Tuesday.
Professor John All of Western Washington University said after returning from the mountains that he and his team of fellow scientists found there was lot of pollution buried deep in the snow, and that the snow was surprisingly dark when they processed and filtered it.
“What that means is there are little pieces of pollution that the snow is forming around, so the snow is actually trapping the pollution and pulling it down,” All said in Katmandu, Nepal’s capital.
All and his team spent weeks testing snow on Everest and its surrounding peaks, as well as plants on the foothills.
“The warming temperature is melting the glaciers and the snow around Mount Everest very quickly, so what happens is even when there is a storm it melts in a couple of hours,” he said. “The glaciers are retreating dramatically because of global warming.”
He said because the glaciers are getting thinner and smaller, it is making it more dangerous for climbers.
The team had been planning to climb both Everest and sister peak Lhotse, but crowding on Everest forced them to change their plans. They climbed up to the last camp at 8,000 meters (26,240 feet), the last point the two mountains share, and only reached the top of Lhotse.
Hundreds of climbers had lined up on May 22 and 23 to attempt to reach Everest’s summit, creating a traffic jam that is being blamed for the deaths of several climbers.
All said it was too risky for his team to collect samples with that many climbers moving very slowly.
The scientists said the samples and data would be processed once they return to United States, and they would then issue a report on their findings. They had done similar research in the area in 2009.
“Overall, the past 10 years have seen a lot changes in the mountains, and they all have been for the negative environmentally in terms of long term survivability of the glaciers,” All said.


UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

Updated 31 October 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson locks down England as COVID-19 cases pass 1 million

  • Lockdown starts just after midnight on Thursday morning
  • United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England back into a national lockdown after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until Dec. 2.
In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.
“Now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay.
Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.
Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
Johnson was criticized by political opponents for moving too slowly into the first national lockdown, which stretched from March 23 to July 4. He fell ill with COVID in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths — defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader death measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates gives the toll as 58,925.
The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.