An urgent call to protect the world’s “Third Pole” | Tshering Tobgay

An urgent call to protect the world’s “Third Pole” | Tshering Tobgay

On the 17th of October, 2009, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives
did something unusual. He held his cabinet meeting underwater. He literally took his ministers
scuba diving, as it were, to warn the world
that his country could drown unless we control global warming. Now I don’t know whether he got
his message across to the world or not, but he certainly caught mine. I saw a political stunt. You see, I’m a politician, and I notice these things. And let’s be honest, the Maldives are distant
from where I come from — my country is Bhutan — so I didn’t lose any sleep
over their impending fate. Barely two months later,
I saw another political stunt. This time, the prime minister of Nepal, he held his cabinet meeting
on Mount Everest. He took all his ministers all the way up
to the base camp of Everest to warn the world that the Himalayan glaciers were melting. Now did that worry me? You bet it did. I live in the Himalayas. But did I lose any sleep over his message? No. I wasn’t ready to let a political stunt
interfere with my beauty sleep. (Laughter) Now fast-forward 10 years. In February this year, I saw this report. This here report basically concludes that one-third of the ice
on the Hindu Kush Himalaya mountains could melt by the end of the century. But that’s only if, if we are able to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade
over preindustrial levels. Otherwise, if we can’t, the glaciers would melt much faster. 1.5 degrees Celsius. “No way,” I thought. Even the Paris Agreement’s
ambitious targets aimed to limit global warming
to two degrees centigrade. 1.5 degrees centigrade is what they call
the best-case scenario. “Now this can’t be true,” I thought. The Hindu Kush Himalaya region is the world’s third-largest
repository of ice, after the North and South Poles. That’s why we are also called
the “Third Pole.” There’s a lot of ice in the region. And yes, the glaciers, they are melting. We know that. I have been to those in my country. I’ve seen them, and yes, they are melting. They are vulnerable. “But they can’t be that vulnerable,”
I remember thinking. But what if they are? What if our glaciers melt
much more quickly than I anticipate? What if our glaciers are much more
vulnerable than previously thought? And what if, as a result,
the glacial lakes — now these are lakes
that form when glaciers melt — what if those lakes burst
under the weight of additional water? And what if those floods
cascade into other glacial lakes, creating even bigger outbursts? That would create unprecedented
flash floods in my country. That would wreck my country. That would wreak havoc in my country. That would have the potential
to literally destroy our land, our livelihood, our way of life. So that report caught my attention in ways that political stunts couldn’t. It was put together by the International Centre for Integrated
Mountain Development, or ICIMOD, which is based in Nepal. Scientists and experts have studied
our glaciers for decades, and their report kept me awake at night,
agonizing about the bad news and what it meant for my country and my people. So after several sleepless nights, I went to Nepal to visit ICIMOD. I found a team of highly competent
and dedicated scientists there, and here’s what they told me. Number one: the Hindu Kush Himalaya glaciers
have been melting for some time now. Take that glacier, for instance. It’s on Mount Everest. As you can see, this once massive glacier
has already lost much of its ice. Number two: the glaciers are now melting
much more quickly — so quickly, in fact, that at just
1.5 degrees centigrade of global warming, one-third of the glaciers would melt. At two degrees centigrade
of global warming, half the glaciers would disappear. And if current trends were to continue, a full two-thirds
of our glaciers would vanish. Number three: global warming means that our mountains
receive more rain and less snow … and, unlike snowfall, rain melts ice, which just hurts
the health of our glaciers. Number four: pollution in the region has increased
the amount of black carbon that’s deposited on our glaciers. Black carbon is like soot. Black carbon absorbs heat and just accelerates
the melting of glaciers. To summarize, our glaciers are melting rapidly, and global warming is making them
melt much more quickly. But what does this mean? It means that the 240 million people who live in the Hindu Kush
Himalaya region — in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India,
China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and my own beloved country, Bhutan — these people will be directly affected. When glaciers melt, when there’s more rain and less snow, there will be huge changes
in the way water behaves. There will be more extremes: more intense rain,
more flash floods, more landslides, more glacial lake outburst floods. All this will cause
unimaginable destruction in a region that already has
some of the poorest people on earth. But it’s not just the people
in the immediate region who’ll be affected. People living downstream
will also be hit hard. That’s because 10 of their major rivers originate in the Hindu Kush
Himalaya mountains. These rivers provide
critical water for agriculture and drinking water to more than 1.6 billion people
living downstream. That’s one in five humans. That’s why the Hindu Kush
Himalaya mountains are also called
the “water towers of Asia.” But when glaciers melt, when monsoons turn severe, those rivers will obviously flood, so there will be deluges
when water is not required and droughts will be very common, when water is desperately required. In short, Asia’s water tower
will be broken, and that will be disastrous
for one-fifth of humanity. Should the rest of the world care? Should you, for instance, care? Remember, I didn’t care
when I heard that the Maldives could disappear underwater. And that is the crux
of the problem, isn’t it? We don’t care. We don’t care until
we are personally affected. I mean, we know.
We know climate change is real. We know that we face
drastic and dramatic change. We know that it is coming fast. Yet most of us act as if everything were normal. So we must care, all of us, and if you can’t care for those who are
affected by the melting of glaciers, you should at least care for yourself. That’s because the Hindu Kush
Himalaya mountains — the entire region
is like the pulse of the planet. If the region falls sick, the entire planet will eventually suffer. And right now, with our glaciers melting rapidly, the region is not just sick — it is crying out for help. And how will it affect
the rest of the world? One obvious scenario
is the potential destabilization caused by tens of millions
of climate refugees, who’ll be forced to move
because they have no or little water, or because their livelihoods
have been destroyed by the melting of glaciers. Another scenario we can’t take lightly is the potential of conflict over water and the political destabilization
in a region that has three nuclear powers: China, India, Pakistan. I believe that the situation
in our region is grave enough to warrant the creation
of a new intergovernmental agency. So as a native
from that part of the world, I want to propose here, today, the establishment
of the Third Pole Council, a high-level,
intergovernmental organization tasked with the singular responsibility of protecting the world’s
third-largest repository of ice. A Third Pole Council would consist of all eight countries
located in the region as member countries, as equal member countries, and could also include
representative organizations and other countries
who have vested interests in the region as non-voting members. But the big idea is to get all stakeholders together
to work together. To work together to monitor
the health of the glaciers; to work together to shape and implement
policies to protect our glaciers, and, by extension, to protect the billions of people
who depend on our glaciers. We have to work together, because thinking globally,
acting locally … does not work. We’ve tried that in Bhutan. We’ve made immense sacrifices
to act locally … and while individual localized efforts
will continue to be important, they cannot stand up
to the onslaught of climate change. To stand up to climate change,
we must work together. We must think globally and act regionally. Our entire region must come together, to work together, to fight climate change together, to make our voices heard together. And that includes India and China. They must step up their game. They must take the ownership
of the fight to protect our glaciers. And for that, these two countries,
these two powerful giants, must reduce their own greenhouse gases, control their pollution,
and lead the fight. Lead the global fight
against climate change. And all that with a renewed
sense of urgency. Only then — and that, too, only maybe — will our region and other regions
that depend on our glaciers have any chance to avoid
major catastrophes. Time is running out. We must act together, now. Otherwise, the next time
Nepal’s cabinet meets on Mount Everest, that spectacular backdrop … may look quite different. And if that happens, if our glaciers melt, rising sea levels
could well drown the Maldives. And while they can hold
their cabinet meetings underwater to send an SOS to the world, their country can keep existing only if their islands keep existing. The Maldives are still distant, away. Their islands are distant
from where I live. But now, I pay close attention
to what happens out there. Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 Replies to “An urgent call to protect the world’s “Third Pole” | Tshering Tobgay”

  1. The glaciers have been melting, sea levels have been rising for the last 10,000 years. But only now it has become a problem ? Low IQ shysters pushing the climate change agenda. Follow the money to find the truth.

  2. Or… (plot twist) if all of these Brazilian and other wild fires continue to rage out of control, the smoke will block out the sun and plummet us into another mini ice age. Problem solved. #buymittens

  3. Hey! Thank you! I never thought of this area as a Third Pole, glacially, and therefore climatically. Good luck with your mission!

  4. Where is Taiwan in the map ? 为什么中国地图上缺少台湾地区 是对中国领土完整的不尊重!我表示强烈抗议 !

  5. Xi Ping change course from economic growth, plans for the world's most powerful military, and desire to control of the South China Sea so much that he would challenge the United States. Have Trump who threatened to fire anyone who put "Climate Change" in a report, had his fellows destroy climate data, despite proven models erroneously draws with a black marker where a hurricane will go, and supports the coal industry believe Climate Change isn't a hoax, and help. You need a miracle. Tomorrow's forecast, look at southern California with its snow pack water supply.

  6. This video is like a car crash we all see what's happening we look in aw and ho but don't stop and just gives our thoughts and drive away. Please don't party early before any action.


  7. Lie, lies, and more lies. Every generation has its fear mongering people. What happened to C.N.D but it got upstaged and went away the very day that Global Warming fear mongerers came on scene. What will replace Global Warming?

  8. Working together with science & technology may reduction on suffering.. it's not gonna be 100% achievement.. planning globally acts regionally as plan of action..

  9. Finally, a politician who actually makes some sense. I hope the world takes you up on your council. The last great climate change in America happen about 12,500 years ago. The Clovis people disappeared. Their survival problems will be our survival problems but only magnified by the amount of population.
    And why would Mexico want a bunch of poor homeless gringo asylum seekers.
    Maybe they'll put OUR Children in pins. And We couldn't say a word.

  10. Who would have thought that nuclear war, genocides or disease wouldn't be the primary causes of human downfall, all you ppl have to do… is nothing, and the extinction of the human race is inevitable. After all is said and done, don't worry… earth will go on, but without this human cancer.

  11. If one looks at the satellite data, there is nothing to worry about. Wait, there is always something to worry about, LOL.

  12. Good talk mate its sad that if the rich can make more money from anything they dont care if it harms the enviroment or people or animals look whats happening all over the world they dont care about your country or mine or even theirs as long as its exploitable it will be we need a lot more people like your self its true every little bit helps but so much of the worlds beautifull places are in danger and the pore peoples voices are not heard good luck mate from cutting down forests tearing apert the earth with mines and fraking to global warming as long as its exploitable and there money to be made then were up the creek without a paddle and were so far up that creek ATM we can see its teeth good luck with it all from victoria Australia

  13. Imagine a scenario where this entire region is flooded to the point of being uninhabitable, leading to a mass exodus towards the western hemisphere. Chaos will ensue.

  14. Everything changes. Nothing remains without change – Buddha

    If the ice melts, instead of trying to STOP the melting, which might be impossible, why not learn to live with more water. "Go with the flow, baby"

  15. One large volcanic eruption puts more pollutants into the atmosphere that all of mankind ever has. Earths climate changes. Always has, always will.
    As the poles shift over land the ice sheets build and ovean levels drop. As the poles move over oceans, ice packs and sea levels rise. Like putting ice in a glass of water.

  16. Look at the timeline overlays. Seems 2000+ Nuclear bombs detonated on the planet caused Global Warming!!!
    BAN NUKES!!!!

  17. What kind of bullshit is this? If you need a special performance, so your brain can capture the idea “we will all die soon if you don’t stop carbon waste”, then I don’t know what kind of human you are. This is some soft speech that won’t make difference at all. CEOs won’t give a damn about emotional watered speech. This should be a straightforward criticism towards them to sparkle real protests.

  18. I started liking him after seeing his last TED Talk. I still like him and his country for being committed to carbon neutral. ☺️☺️

    What I like in this speech is his effort to call the nations to come together to fight and mitigate Climate Change.

    Now few dislikes in this Talk.

    – Calling Maldives and Nepal's as Political stunt. Could have used some other term.

    – Think globally act regionally. Instead of this Think and Act together Globally is more effective. Because Climate Change is going to affect each and every life in this planet alike. Already two poles are melting. But nations are fighting to get a hold of the to be emerged new land due to melting of glaciers. SAD REALITY.

  19. I am at a loss as to why there isn't a project to darken the atmosphere. Several previous Global coolings were caused by large amounts of ash/dust thrown into the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions/meteor impacts. It seems by far the cheapest (and likely easiest) method of climate control. Instead of carbon controls on industry, create and fund a UN body to eject (non-toxic) sunlight blocking particles into the atmosphere. Go slow obviously, we don't want another ice age, but it seems very doable. Once the global average is at the desired temperature, switch funding to a research body for less pollutive and equally productive industry methods. Asking developing nations with a struggling population to cut back on pollution is unrealistic. Hungry people don't care about the environment, most well fed poor people don't care about it. In any case most of these nations don't have enough control over their people to enforce pollution controls. What's the plan? Invade China and India and force them to stop polluting the atmosphere (they have nukes too remember)? Extremely unrealistic. Will we imprison the poor farmers in the Amazon and Africa to stop them burning trees to plant crops? We need a better way. New technologies are the solution, not attempts to control people just doing their best to feed themselves and their families.

  20. Instead of pointing our fingers which country contributed more to global warming why don't we do the basic by sharing this videos to our friends and acquaintances. Maybe some of them are aware of global warming but they have no idea to the extent of the damage caused our planet. Also planting trees wouldn't hurt us.

  21. Holy crap! Only global government can solve global warming. We desperately need a New World Order … oh wait … I see what you did there.

  22. The world we live must care more about lives ahead. This is something very serious to the third pole. It all starts with each individual, and as a whole Nation. Let's care about our mother Earth. I have been to the himalayas ladakh region and heard from locals about the problem and climate change. It's time to act.

  23. My friend Tshering. Do not worry. Melting glaziers is good for the economy. Corporations will move in bottle the water in plastic cans and sell it to the 250. mil people in the area. Imagine the generated employment and revenews will bring in. That is also valid for Canada and USA 350. mill of people. Look at the Amazone. The Chief Indian who made the trip to Paris to meet Makron and complain about the fires which coprorations took care of, was misguided. Bolsonaro is for the Noble prize for renewable economy in our stagnated planet. When the corporations thrive so do the rest of humanity. See how people are happy with it. That's fair, do not you think so ? Employment for every one. We live in prosperous times, share wealth and health and we die with integrity under the good auspicies of nuclear plants. And do not forget if something go wrong we can always do terraforming on Mars ('Aρης), for a happier life. GOOD RIDDANCE MR. TOBGAY TO ALL OF US.

  24. Please share this TED talk as more people need to see evidence of climate change and so many of us are in disbelief of the subject.

  25. Non sense, man don't have power to change the ENTIRE PLANET'S CLIMATE !! This is seasonal, earth changes its climete once in a while and this is it. Get real people.

  26. "controle global warming". typical mediocrity politicians trying to change the climat without thinking about consequences.

  27. The optimal solution to fight climate change is to plant more trees and vegetation. What would be best is to create more farms which would also help to sustain the population of the world. Governments should be investing more in this than trying to push the current "renewable" energy options.

  28. We need to give the UN a million man army with all th best kit do away with the Veto and execute members suspected of corruption. including North Americas legalised Bribery.

  29. "Every body knows 'Bhutan' is just a Chinese hoax. Mr. 'Tobegay' probably isn't even a politician like he claims – sounds more like one of those Sneaky Scientist guys. Sad."

  30. The people of the USA are Behind you!
    The DOPEY Prez Of the USA, is not!
    That's who you have to convince!
    Not the people!

  31. Reservoirs. Low tech and has been used in the region for over 800 years. Don't need others. Problem solved. You're welcome.

  32. I'm glad to see someone finally taking the fight to where it should focus its' efforts. Asia is by far the worst region on earth, in terms of pollution. The U.S.A. may pollute at a rate of 2 to 1 but, our population accounts for less than 9% of the combined populations, of the three biggest contributors to "Global Warming". Of the three, India, China, and the U.S., we in the U.S., advance more environmental sciences, and aid more of the globe, with our industries. It is disingenuous to say that, The U.S. is responsible for more than a fraction of the evil "carbon footprint" of humanity.

  33. We need leaders like Mr. Tshering Tobgay, who work for the environment and for the world. This is the requirement for the present. Time is running out. We need to act upon the solutions proposed by respected sir. And solve this problem effectively and efficiently.

  34. How do you want to change the circle of life which our planet has faced in the past? The global warming and ice age is coming and passing historically and can't be changed! This happens all hundreds of years.

    The only thing we can avoid in future is huge pollution of plastic waste(in the air what we inhale and in oceans what we afterwards eat together with fisches) and big radiation.

    Also we must stop the chemtrails all over the world in order to stop poisoning people with Aluminium, Barium and Strontium. They are deadly poison for long term.

    The propaganda with global warming is just used for increasing taxes and so on in order to make people poorer as they already are and keep the "system" running. IMHO

  35. Your country is being sprayed and poisoned from above by Bill Gates and Prof David Keith of Harvard. Look up, poison is raining down on your country. Keith admits pumping sulfuric acid into the atmosphere will kill many hundreds of thousands. It also kills the land, animals and insect life. The intention of the Elite is to crush populations and destroy all land. Do not look at the words "climate change". Look at and point your finger at the Illuminati Committee of 300. These are the killers of your country and mine.

  36. One problem: the original ice core studies that "proved" CO2 increases cause warming have since been re-done with much better instruments and methods, and now show that warming causes CO2 increases. That is much more plausible because the oceans are far and away the largest reservoirs of CO2, and their ability to keep it in solution decreases as the water warms.

  37. OK you’re talking about global warming, the earth changes temperature from time to time it gets colder gets hotter goes in between it’s colder gets hotter it’s a cycle you fool, then reality comes into play, poles melt, polls freeze Wind blows wind blows hard ocean waves are small sometimes huge what world are you living in if you feel the sky is falling chicken Little go hide, everything changes for a reason modern technology the weather the sun is shining still what about the plasma burst from the sun what about anything that scares you life is reality get a grip on it it’s a cycle you can’t stop the cycle by what taxiing us to prevent global warming where are you high on stupidity or just hearing yourself talk with your pajamas on my point of you.🕶

  38. I keep hearing poor earth, poor people. You are mistaken sir, Earth will be fine, people will suffer. People, honestly, deserve whats coming.

  39. This is heart breaking. I totally agree with him. We don't have time. All the powerful people in the world should take this seriously and implement policies which help fight climate change.
    We need more forests, way better drainage systems and processing facilities before exporting waste to our waters, use public transport over personal cars, more plant based food over meat and no plastic.

    #bhutan #globalwarming

  40. if it turn into a volcano ull understand very quickly that the word country is a virtual human concept wich dont worth any deaths ,so move dude if you want to live



  42. the elites want our planet to undergo these changes.destabilization,thats there m.o.
    wed hav2stop corp.conglomerates of agriculture and meat to become responsible,free energy,peace,stabilized economy~everything they put into place and have coordinated 4thousands of years. goodluck,my heart goes out2 us all.

  43. China is 98% to blame for the Pollution that is covering the ice and snow, thus stopping its ability to reflect the heat of the Sun. The Northern Hemisphere is Heating up, but the Southern Hemisphere is Cooling Down. Pollution is a Northern Hemisphere Problem, Overpopulated and no respect for Nature. Stop Breeding or Perish.1 to 2 Children per Couple Max.

  44. All Al Gore bullshit. This is for the sheep that can't do research on their own. The ice pack in Greenland is growing and the newest reports say that Antarctica ice pack is healthy. People don't understand that the earth goes through cycles and that the sun is the biggest factor on our weather. Right now we are in a grand solar minimum.

  45. In the US, Glacier Natural park has already lost over 100 out of approximately 125 glaciers. I think ( do not quote me on this ) in total the lower 48 has lost over 65% of total glaciers and roughly over 80% total ice stored there. ( I would have to look up the current numbers and it's 1 am so that's not happening till morning ). And we have so much push back against the science that we elected an idiot as president. Sighs.

  46. There hasn't been any warming since 1998 and in fact there has been cooling for the two last years. They don't all it global warming anymore; now it's climate change. We are in an inter glacial warming period.

  47. Here is the solution:

    "Do no more children for 1/4 of a century and you will solve almost all your problems,
    do not have children for 1/2 century and you will solve all your problems without exception."
    This is an absolute truth.

  48. It's sad, but it's true 🙁 Most people don't care about others. Especially if it doesn't touch them directly. I am European and I really would like everyone to help by himself. Especially real govermental actions.
    God Bless Asia,
    and God bless the whole humanity

  49. A leader leads by an example and Bhutan is a leader who itself is carbon negative and telling others to do the same. Proud of Bhutan with such great people that care about Nature. We don't care until we are personally affected that is the truth. We need to start working together and save the forests.

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