Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Roof of the World

Mcleodganj (Upper Dharamsala), India -- Earlier today I was in the Bookworm bookstore, speaking to Tibetan ex-freedom fighting guerilla Lhasang Tsering about the "save" Tibet vs "free" Tibet issue, and the subject of Tibetan Plateau ecology came up.

He was explaining how China's Three Gorges Dam on the Yangste River, scheduled to be completed in 2009, is, according to plan, going to create a 350-mile long reservoir containing 1.39 trillion cubic feet of water.

A body of water that size is going to affect the temperature, he said, which will have an enormous effect on the monsoon winds, which will likely create devastating environmental damage throughout Asia, especially on fragile Tibet.

"While everyone focuses on the Dalai Lama and his policy of negotiation for Tibet, the Chinese are working on a project that will destroy Tibet as we've known it. There will be a hole in the roof of the world," he said.

As I repeated the phrase "roof of the world," he looked at me and wistfully smiled.

"Look up there," he said, eyes dancing as he pointed to the snowy top of the Dhauladhar range that rises high and steep above Dharamsala.

"The top of that beautiful mountain is 14,000 feet. In Tibet, the valley floors are at 15,000 feet."