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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Railway not among serious plateau warming problems?

August 19, 2009
August 18, 2009

China says the fast pace of rising temperature on the Tibetan Plateau
will worsen flood and drought in China and other parts of Asia but
will, strangely, not impact the controversial Qinghai-Tibet Railway
for another 50 years.

"The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is among the regions worst hit by global
warming. In turn, this will have a deleterious effect on global
climate and also the livelihood of Asian people," China's official
Xinhua news agency Aug 17 quoted Qin Dahe, of the Chinese Academy of
Sciences (CAS) and a former head of the China Meteorological
Administration (CMA),  as saying.

The report said that the temperature in the Tibet Autonomous Region
(TAR) had risen by an average of 0.32 degrees Celsius every 10 years
from 1961 to 2008, much higher than China's national warming rates of
0.05 to 0.08 degrees. And the TAR's average temperature in July this
year was reported to be the highest since 1951. It said rain in
western and southern Tibet lessened by between 30 to 80percent
compared to the same period in previous years.

The fast melting of the plateau's glaciers, the world's third largest
ice store, will, in the short term, cause lakes to expand and bring
floods and mudflows. But, "in the long run, glaciers are vital
lifelines for Asian rivers such as the Indus and the Ganges. Once
they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril," Qin
was quoted as saying. The combined drainage basin of several major
rivers in Asia such as the Indus, the Ganges, and the Yangtze rising
from the plateau is home to more than 2.7 billion people, Qin has said.

According to Qin, construction works in the permafrost region would
also face tough challenges caused by rising temperatures and
permafrost degradation. "The Qinghai-Tibet railway and highway
surfaces may possibly become deformed in the future," he was quoted as saying.

But Cheng Guodong, a CAS researcher and a member of the Qinghai-Tibet
railway project team, was reported to be optimistic about
construction work. "After we took measures to cool (to stabilize) the
permafrost under the railway, it hasn't melted during the past three
years. I believe the railway will be safe over the next 50 years."

Qin was reported to have referred also to the positive aspects of the
warming. "Warming is good for agriculture and tourism. It has
increased the growing season of crops as well as the tourism season."
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