Target: Secretary Zhang Chunxian
Goal: Applaud decision to protect important glaciers from erosion by banning glacial tourism.
Officials of the Xinjiang government in northwestern China have announced a ban on tourism on glaciers across the region. The move comes after a report citing glacial tourism as one of the leading contributors to glacial erosion.
The Xinjiang region makes up roughly one-sixth of the land mass of China and is home to about 47 percent of the national ice reserves. Large numbers of glaciers can be found in the Tianshan range which runs from east to west through the middle of the region.
Chen Xi of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has said that glaciers there have receded some 15 to 30 percent in the last 30 years. Over the last five decades, the average temperature in Xinjiang has risen 0.6 to 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit every ten years, which is roughly three times the global average. Other glaciers in different parts of China have retreated over the last few decades, resulting in an increase in flooding in areas nearby.
Officials from the region’s capital, Urumqi, banned tourism to No. 1 Glacier near the city in 2006, but tourists have been getting rides with local herders who are looking to make some extra money. They have been observed by reporters littering in the area.
Rising temperatures are already responsible for the retreat of glaciers across the country. Applaud this move to minimize the additional direct damage being caused by glacial tourism.
Dear Secretary Chunxian,
The decision to ban glacial tourism in the Xinjiang province is a significant step in the right direction in the fight against climate change and glacial melting. By minimizing the effect that tourists have on the glaciers in the region, this decision could help maintain the glaciers for future generations and safeguard the surrounding areas.
Almost half of China’s 46,377 glaciers are in the Xianjing province, and reports have indicated a significant rise in temperatures in the region over the last 50 years. Making the effort now to limit the potentially harmful presence of tourists on these glaciers will prevent the flooding and water shortages that have been seen in other areas of China where glaciers have retreated.
Although glacial tourism brought in $153 million over the last dozen years, the possible costs related to problems arising from melting glaciers like the aforementioned floods and shortages could be much higher. I applaud this attempt to slow the retreat of glaciers and reduce the impact of glacial tourism.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Guilhem Vellut