Paradise Lost: Kashmir’s Vanishing Glaciers, Waters, and Forests

Kashmir, the ruggedly beautiful mountainous region that lies along the India-Pakistan border, was long known as 'paradise on earth,' but in recent decades it has been more like hell thanks to the bloody conflict that has claimed over 90,000 lives. Now relative peace has returned to the region but another disaster looms: The glaciers, rivers, and forests in Kashmir are disappearing.

In a state whose economy depends on agriculture and tourism, the decrease in water resources is catastrophic. River and stream levels are down by two thirds in just 40 years. Deforestation and logging have resulted in silt build-up that has blocked the natural springs feeding Kashmir's lakes, which are also threatened by the absence of sewage systems needed to separate toxins from water sources.

From trekking with scientists to Himalayan glaciers, tracking deforestation, and wading through the lakes of Srinagar to monitor the extent of water pollution, this project analyzes the environmental situation in Kashmir and looks at what is being done to combat the crisis.

Kashmir: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

As I looked at the Himalaya Mountains, from my window, on a flight from New Delhi to Kashmir last week, I realized that something was missing. Snow. The mountains usually snowcapped by December were bare. My friends in Kashmir had told me that this was an abnormally warm winter and there was no snow, but somehow I just did not realize the magnitude of the situation. I was not the only one.

Kashmir's Disappearing Himalaya

People across the globe are learning that the glaciers in the western Himalaya are receding as fast as any place on the planet. But few know how the glacier's recession is measured. In September, I joined an expedition team led by one of the foremost glaciologists in India, and trekked to Kolohai glacier. These pictures show how the measurements on Kashmir's glaciers are taken and gives insight into the lives of people already affected by climate change.

Houseboats Struggling in Kashmir

Rebecca Byerly reports for Voice of America on the struggling houseboat industry in Kashmir. This report is part of Pulitzer Center-sponsored project "Paradise Lost: Kashmir's Vanishing Glaciers, Waters, and Forests"