Bhutan's soon-to-be former king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, an environmentalist who has decided to give up power after establishing the protection of resources the cornerstone philosophy of his nation, had named that philosophy, the idea that lifestyle and values were as important as material gains, their: 'Gross National Happiness'.
National Flag of Bhutan
For this high Himalayan nation lined by lakes and rivers -- a country that has done more than most to help the environment -- the sins of others have overwhelmed that philosophy, as twenty four of their over two thousand glacial melt lakes threaten to spill over their natural dams due to glacier retreat.
Leading Bhutan's Agricultural Minister to announce that their 'Gross National Happiness' is now threatened:
Bhutan eyes glacier floods as area warms
THIMPU, Bhutan - High in the Himalayas, the isolated mountain kingdom of Bhutan has done more to protect its environment than almost any other country.
Forests cover nearly three quarters of its land, and help to absorb the greenhouse gases others emit. Its strict conservation policies help to guard one of the world's top 10 biodiversity hotspots, often to the chagrin of its own farmers. Yet Bhutan could pay a high price for the sins of others — global warming is a major threat to its fragile ecosystem and the livelihoods of its people.
The most dramatic threat is posed by what scientists call Glacial Lake Outburst Floods. As the Himalaya's glaciers recede, these lakes are forming and filling with melt water all along the mountain range...
Bhutan reports their glaciers are believed to be retreating at sixty to ninety feet a year. They are also beginning to record diseases never before experienced in the high Himalayas, such as Malaria and dengue fever.
Their government is drawing up a national plan to address the problems of climate change, but even the best planning in the world will not be enough if the other nations of the world do not do their part. In the meantime, they're giving radios and walkie-talkies to villages at the highest elevations in a effort to provide an early warning of sudden floods to the populations below.
Bhutan is not the only place where dramatic glacier change is occurring.
ABC reported, in Nov., about a Norwegian glacier that was melting so fast, the scientists working there had to abandon their research.
Video link here.
And environmental photojournalist, David Arnold, recently took identical photographs of glaciers photographed seventy years ago by mountain climber, Brad Washburn. The results, which are stark, are at this link.
Malaria in the Himalayas.
A canary on top of the world.
Everyone's Gross National Happiness is threatened.
Here's a story about Bhutanese refugees in Nepal with an interesting paragraph at the end about Bhutan's former king's decision to hand power over to an elected government.
The video story of the Norwegian glacier.
And the glacier comparison photos.
[image of Bhutan National Flag is public domain]