Guest essay by Eric Worrall
More evidence that global warming is spreading its icy tentacles across the entire Northern Hemisphere; devex reports that global warming is freezing Mongolian livestock, and preventing the grass from growing in the Summer.
For Mongolians, climate change is as personal as it gets
When the world adopted the newest climate agreement during the United Nations climate change conference — or COP21 — in Paris, France, last December, an urgent warning was sounded: The effects of climate change will only worsen if nothing is done to address the problem.
Even in the landlocked nation of Mongolia, the negative effects of climate change have hit home — quite literally. Oyun Sanjaasuren, inaugural president of the United Nations Environment Assembly, said that her country’s vulnerability to climate change could be the highest in the world by the turn of the century, if current rate of temperature increase continues.
“Mongolia’s average warming over the past couple of years is 2.2 degrees Celsius, which is considered the hottest in the country since the 1940s, and the global average is at 0.8 degrees Celsius,” said Sanjaasuren, who has also served as a member of parliament in the East Asian nation since 1998.
The effects of climate change have been severe in Mongolia, bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south. In 2009 and 2010 alone, around 8.5 million livestock died — consisting mostly of goats, sheep, cows and horses — as a result of extreme weather conditions known as a “dzud,” a summer drought followed by a heavy snowfall.
The phenomenon is unique to the East Asian nation, exacerbated by the fact that around one-third of the country’s work force depends on animal husbandry and livestock herding to earn a living. And this year, dzud is once again threatening livelihoods.
Since November 2015, large parts of the country have been experiencing very low temperatures of up to minus 40 degree Celsius, followed by heavy snowfall that has covered around 90 percent of Mongolia’s territory. This has resulted in sharp reductions in plant life used for livestock feed and rendering pastures — and even basic services such as transportation — largely inaccessible.
“Herders and livestock were used to warmer winters … so now with colder winters, it makes it hard to cope with the temperature,” Tsedensednom, governor of Ulziit district, located more than 600 kilometers southwest of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, told Devex.
“I’m not a scientific expert, but in my personal experience, the changes [to the environment] are evident,” he added. “When I was a kid, the grass was so high you couldn’t see calves. Now grass only grows 10 centimeters, or not at all.”
This situation has been exacerbated by overgrazing, an issue in the country for several years. …
The harsh conditions are obviously no laughing matter for the Mongolian people, who are obviously suffering severe hardship, but the attempt to frame this as a problem caused by warming is more than a little ridiculous. Still, perhaps Mongolian authorities are taking their lead from US Climate Scientists, who frequently claim brutal cold and heavy snow are our fault.