International Mountain Day: Mountain High, Skin Deep

Mountains are beautiful. However, to fixate on their marvelous physicality is a huge disfavor. We rely on mountains in more ways than one. Yet slowly — and every way possible — we are turning these mountains to meaningless beauties, nothing more than glorified pieces of rock.

Filled with substance

Mountains are home to various natural resources. More than half of the world’s population rely on freshwater from mountains for their daily supply. There are diverse flora and fauna uniquely found in mountains.

Mountains are home to 15% of the world’s population.  A multitude of indigenous people call mountains their home. Their intimate connection with the mountains created a biocultural heritage that is truly their own.

An orchestra of destruction

Throughout the years, we have overexploited mountains in multiple ways. We have mined them to oblivion and sparked large-scale deforestation.

These actions drove plant and animal species to the brink of extinction. These made conditions for the mountain people worse, when to start with their living conditions are already quite bad.

This compelled the indigenous people to migrate from the mountains, abandoning agriculture, degrading the land, and losing their cultural traditions.

The abuses that we have committed on the mountains released large amounts of carbon dioxide. In 2006-2014, 104 million hectares of forests were wiped out, releasing 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year during that period.

The carbon dioxide released from the atmosphere accelerated climate change. This made extreme changes in weather conditions and thawed mountain glaciers which are among the chief sources of the world’s limited supply of freshwater.

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We have drained out mountains in every manner we possibly could. It’s almost as if we’re going out of our way to reduce mountains to mere heaps of rock as quickly as we could.

Visible yet invisible

December 11 marks the International Mountain Day. Mountains are extremely large yet the attention that we have given to them is downright miniscule. For something so visible, we treat it as if it doesn’t exist.

2019’s celebration theme is “Mountains Matter for Youth.” The youth is always at the forefront of radical change. Yet the mountains call for the help of everyone.

Intensified efforts in land protection and preservation will pave the way towards the recovery of mountains. By regaining our forests, we are also setting up a natural means to deplete the carbon emissions present in our atmosphere. Education, market access, employment opportunities, and accessible public services, on the other hand, will empower the young people in the mountains and shape them to be the protectors of their homes.

The awareness of the importance of the mountains greatly contributes to the increased action for the protection of our mountains. The mountains may be mind-blowingly high, yet our understanding of it is skin-deep. Today is the day we can stop turning a blind eye on the problems deeply entrenched in our mountains.

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