Monday, March 17, 2014

Tibet's contribution to mankind?

Polluting the Lakes!
"Dense forest, extensive grassland, clean water, blue sky and clear air are not only Tibet's largest wealth, but also the biggest contribution Tibet has provided to China and even to all mankind", thus speaks Lobsang Gyaltsen, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), which was recently held in Beijing.
Nobody can deny this.
Lobsang Gyaltsen further stresses that Tibet is for China, an important ecological safety barrier; he called Tibet, the 'Asian water-tower', the 'last pure land of the world' in view of its important ecological and strategic position.
In Gyaltsen's mind, 'strategic' is probably due to the fact that 11 of the major Asian rivers have their sources on the Tibetan plateau.
Lobsang Gyaltsen continues: "Feasible measures should be taken to protect the environment of Tibet. At present, Tibet remains as one of the best areas in ecological environment in the world."
He adds that his government has always attached a great importance to environment protection, 'sticking to the bottom line of environment protection'; he swears that the TAR "has never introduced enterprises and projects with high energy consumption, high pollution and high emissions."
That sounds good, unfortunately, the Fifth Work Forum on Tibet in 2010 decided to transform Tibet into an important international tourism destination.
When Lobsang Gyaltsen says that Tibet should upgrade its tourism industry, build high-end tourism scenes and create high-quality tourism products to promote the integrative development of tourism, culture and ecology, he is really serious?
First, why should 'Tibet tourism' be a 'product' to sell? Once you call it a 'product', it comes under the law of the 'market', who care a less for environment as  most of the large cities in China has recently been experiencing.
Gyalsten forgets that to feed and take care of 15 millions tourists on a Roof of the World every year, a lot of energy, water, food is required. All this means more pollution.
Gyaltsen also asserts that it will soon will be faster (and more convenient) to reach several places on the plateau. He mentions  the Lhasa-Shigatse Railway, which connects Lhasa to the second largest Tibetan town; it will be opened in September as well as the soon-to-be started railway line connecting Lhasa and Nyingchi, near the Indian border of Arunachal.
He speaks of 'a comprehensive transport network of highways, railways, airlines and pipelines'.
He concludes: "We will never develop economy at the cost of environment."
For Tibet's Communist boss, the region is a great attraction "for its unmatched natural landscapes, such as the Mount Chomolungma [Everest] and Yarlung Tsangpo [Brahmaputra] Grand Canyon, and local customs and practices in the world, such as Tibetan songs and dances."
Gyaltsen probably sees the huge revenues pouring into the coffers of his government, but has he ever looked at the collaterals of bringing 15 million visitors on the Roof of the World?
Legislators from Tibet at the National People's Congress also vowed to protect the local environment; they even warned that ecological degradation may harm tourism.
It is in fact the opposite; mass tourism can only harm environment.
Mountain Tourism
Hong Wei, a Tibetan (from Ngari) with a Chinese name, who is deputy head of the regional tourism bureau told China Tibet Online: "Tibet is protecting its environment with a no-nonsense manner; we will never develop our economy at the cost of the environment".
Kelsang Choekar, another deputy to the NPC told the press in Beijing during the NPC: "Tibet's goal is to be a world class tourist destination. We are still far from that. If the environment in Tibet is damaged, its attraction will be greatly harmed."
Do these deputies really believe what they say, or are they saying what they are told to say?
There is no doubt that mass tourism is the best (and the quickest) way to destroy the environment as it demands large amounts of energy and generates huge quantity of solid waste.
The only 'feasible measures to protect the environment of Tibet' is to limit the numbers of yearly visitors. The same is valid for the entire Himalayan belt.

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