Credit By: Entertainment
A farmer and the head of the village in the Pakistani highlands made an odd decision when they decided to try breeding a glacier offspring.
This long-standing custom entails mixing sections of white glaciers, which locals have historically viewed as female, with black or brown glaciers, which are thought to be male because of the color caused by rock fragmentation.
It is thought that this combination would trigger the emergence of a new glacier that will eventually become big enough to provide essential water to nearby farmers.
This ceremony was forgotten decades ago when modernity began to take hold in Baltistan. However, local authorities, scientists from ICIMOD—the main intergovernmental organization studying climate change in Asia’s high mountain regions—and residents have reported that it is currently experiencing a resurgence as the effects of human-induced planetary warming disrupt life in this region.
The UN, astonishingly, is supporting this project, donating small sums of a few hundred euros for glacier mating and the services of an engineer familiar with Balti customs.
To combat the glaciers’ rapid melting, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is actively looking for methods to support the people living in northern Pakistan as they adjust to climate change. To this end, the program is relying on the rich legacy of indigenous culture in the area.
Glacier mating is only one of several novel tactics being investigated. Farmers in this Himalayan district are also building frozen water fountains using a neighboring Indian technology as a response to the problem of water scarcity. Engineers are trying to use avalanches as a supply of water. There is also a group of women who are known as “water thieves.”
“Like someone drowning and willing to try anything, we are at our wit’s end,” said 65-year-old Shamsher Ali of Machulo Hamlet, where water theft is rife.
It might surprise you to learn that the people living in this mountainous area are having trouble finding water. Situated in the far north of Pakistan, Baltistan is a portion of the high mountains of Asia, which include the Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Himalayan ranges. Sometimes called the “Third Pole,” it contains the greatest amount of ice in the globe outside of the polar regions.
The villagers of Chunda have been irrigating their little fields of wheat and barley, as well as their orchards full of almonds, cherries, and apples, with glacier runoff for generations. Though it looked idyllic on a recent day, with a shepherd leading his flock through late-spring grain fields bounded by stone walls, farmer Yasin Malik, 31, pointed to neighboring slopes where he had once grown almond orchards. The striking result of the surrounding glaciers’ quick retreat was that those once-fertile hillsides were now scorched and barren.
The thousands of glaciers nested in these towering mountains have been melting at an alarming rate over the past 20 years. Some have given rise to unstable lakes that, when they eventually burst, sent rocks and ice cascades flying down the hillsides, wreaking havoc on roads, homes, and other properties. Ejaz Karim, the chief of emergency management for the Agha Khan Agency for Habitat, a nonprofit that keeps a close eye on the consequences of climate change in the region, claims that there is now a rise in avalanches. The amount of snowfall has decreased even as devastating floods are occurring more frequently. This has resulted in less spring melting in water sources, from the wild Shyok River to Machulo’s mountain stream.