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Iceland President seeks India’s cooperation to prevent polar ice cap melt

Dehradun, Apr 2 (ANI): Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson has requested India to cooperate and participate in a project to prevent the melting of glaciers and ice, both in the Arctic and in the Himalayan region.

Grimsson, who is on a three-day visit to India, was speaking at a conference titled ‘Third Pole Environment Workshop’ in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, on Monday, and said the Indian Government has shown great vision and leadership in agreeing to host a meeting to discuss the melting of glaciers.

“This is the first time that we bring together scientists from India, China and the other Himalayan countries with an international participation and I think Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the government have shown a great vision and leadership in agreeing to host the meeting here at this institute and for me personally, and for Iceland, it’s great honour to be a part of this evolving Himalayan cooperation,” he said.

Earlier, The United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP) had said that the Arctic needs to be better protected from a rush for natural resources, as melting ice makes mineral and energy exploration easier.

Several ice shelves – thick ice floating on the ocean and linked to land – have collapsed around the Antarctic Peninsula in recent years. Once ice shelves break up, glaciers pent up behind them can slide faster into the sea, raising water levels.

Grimsson also said that the melting of ice and glaciers is having a profound impact on weather patterns and climate all over the world.

Adding on he said, “The reason why I am here is that in my part of the world the melting of the ice and the glaciers is having a profound impact on weather patterns and climate all over the world. So, both Arctic and Antarctica and the Himalayas which we call the third pole are important for the future and environment of every nation.”

Last September, Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level in the satellite record, which dates back to 1979, and scientists say there could be an ice-free summer by 2030-2040.

The melt is largely blamed on rising greenhouse gas emissions, short-lived pollutants such as soot, or black carbon, and variations in atmosphere and ocean currents.

The Greenland ice cap has also been melting, permafrost on the tundra has thawed and there is less snow on land and on glaciers.

The Union Minister for Science and Technology, Jaipal Reddy urged the nations to come together and work towards the cause.

“Glaciers in the Himalayan region have dried up, which would affect the world economy. Two-third of the world economy will be affected and in India also two-third of the economy will be affected. Not just one country but all the nations have to come together and work toward it,” he said.

As ice and snow retreats, more shipping routes are opened and access is easier for oil and gas exploration and mining companies. However, increased human activity could threaten the already fragile ecosystems and wildlife, UNEP said.

The Arctic Council – made up of core members Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States – has a crucial role to play in ensuring any resource exploitation is done responsibly. (ANI)