A world wonder in crisis

If ever asked to name my “bucket list,” I, like most, would name the well-known wonders of the world such as the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal (obviously the mausoleum not the hotel in “The Hangover”) and the Roman Coliseum.

After learning about one of most picturesque places in the world, however, the original must-sees now seem so passé.

Ironically, the hidden wonder I refer to, the Meili Snow Mountain Range, is not so hidden since its highest peak soars at 22,000 feet.

Most commonly known for the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the range’s majestic glacial peaks are located on the Tibetan Plateau located in the Yunnan province of China, an area so untouched that until recently, only Buddhist monks visited the sacred mountain range.

In addition to harmonizing peace and prayer, the mountain range is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth and home to half of all the plants and animals found in the country; thus, it is becoming a popular eastern tourist destination.

By this time, perhaps you are questioning why this natural beauty takes precedence over other natural masterpieces.

The necessity to visit the peak is urgent because as days pass the glacial range disappears drop by drop, literally. The mountain range is melting at alarming rates, as the temperatures at these high altitudes climb quicker than at sea level.

According to Barry Baker, a nature conservancy climate modeler who has been studying the Yunnan region for more than five years, the Mingyong, part of the range that runs into the Mekong River, is one of the fastest receding glaciers in the world, retreating at a rate of 160 feet per year.

As an active citizen of a global society, you may be wondering what can be done. Unfortunately, other than altering greenhouse gas consumption, not much is possible. Because the range is deemed holy by Buddhists, paleontologists are not permitted to set foot onto the mountain’s icy surface.

Thus, this global dilemma is not getting the attention it deserves by either scientific nor political communities, though the consequences of the melting may be detrimental in the future.

As a result of the pressures of global warming, I urge you to reconsider your dream vacation plans to Beijing, Agra or Rome in order to experience the serenity of the most sacred natural wonders before time glides by.

Margaux Traina is a junior majoring in international studies. She may be contacted at mtraina@themiamihurricane.com.

March 7, 2010


Margaux Traina

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