Everest Melting? High Signs of Climate Change

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Climbers have littered the mountain with discarded oxygen cylinders, human waste, and other trash.

Despite these problems, Pemba Geljen Sherpa, the expedition's guide, said tourism on Everest should not be curtailed. "We need more, not less, tourism here to boost the economy and give people jobs, incomes and education. I think we can manage it so that it is the right kind of tourism that respects local people and local landscapes."

Restoring the Environment

Steps have been made in restoring the environment around Mount Everest. Natural forest regeneration in lower altitudes has brought the area's forest cover back to what it was at mid-century, according to the U.S.-based Mountain Institute.

Proposals to ban alpine shrub collection and subsidies to encourage use of birch and rhododendron from lower down the mountain are being considered by local communities. There is also a proposal to build shelters for porters, who often sleep in the open and stay warm by keeping a fire burning.

Residents are attempting to produce more food locally and sustainably. "We saw a lot of impressive efforts by local people to make themselves less dependent on food imports, including the development of greenhouse crops and fruit orchards," said expedition member Julia-Ann Clyma.

"What we cannot control is global warming; that is in the hands of others," Geljen said.

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