The Himalayas, where there is little understanding of how carbon emissions effect their lives. Photograph: PR
Isabel Hilton (IH): How accurate are predictions of future climate impacts in the region?
Dipak Gyawali (DG): Here is a sense of confusion: the implications of what is happening seem more and more horrendous and some things are pretty certain. Beyond that, though, the models predict all kinds of things. The question of the Himalayas has not really begun to be addressed and the science has a very long way to go on precipitation and the social effects.
IH: How can science become more relevant to the region?
DG: The effects in different parts of the Himalaya and south Asia will be very different and it's not all about glaciers. The Maldives will be drowned; Sri Lanka may have more tsunamis and more intense storms; Bangladesh will have its own problems. They will not be impacted directly by the glaciers; the interest in the glaciers is that they are powerful indicators: they tell you clearly that something is wrong. It's like going to the doctor with a fever: you know you are sick. But we don't have the science to be able to make accurate predictions of impacts over a hugely diverse region. If you look at the last IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, for instance, the whole of the Himalayas was a blank. People are already suffering but whether we can take any one instance as directly related to climate change is not certain.
For more on Tides project chinadialogue, see www.chinadialogue.net.