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Conservation discussion.  

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Tibetan spiritual discussion.  

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Glacier discussion with English translation by Elizabeth Arnold  

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Glacier and plant discussions.  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
11 Oct 2005

    Geography
  • China
    Yunnan
    Locality
  • Tibet; Deqin County
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 28.20123   98.9962
    Recording TimeCode
  • 46:51 - 49:00
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 24-bit
    Recorders
  • SONY TCD-D8
    Microphones
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
  • Sennheiser MKH 40
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Decoded MS stereo. Sonosax pre-amps used.

Reporter: Elizabeth Arnold
Engineer: Leo delAguila
Interviews with: Jan Salick and Whi Jou Song[sp??], president of Tibetan Cultural Research Institute
Logged By: ESN

0:00
LdA: Testing. Dat 5. We are on an overview of this holy mountain, Kowa [?], I think. We are going to be recording ambience, the set up is the same, MS Stereo, my M is MKH 40, my S is MKH 30 and sonasax preamps into a D8, and headphones.
1:00

EA, LdA: informal talking.

1:30
EA: Can you tell us where we are?

1:35
[street sounds, people talking in BG]
??: Uh so now we are in Dequin[?]. Dequin[?] county, one of counties in Dequin[?] prefecture. And you know, here is. this pass is called Medulaka[?] in the Tibetan language and from here you can see you know the uh Kowkebu[?] which is the eight, you know, one of the eight sacred mountain in the whole Tibetan region, and it is you know recognized as one of the most powerful holy mountain in tibetan culture, and every year, millions of pilgrims come here to worship the mountain.
2:21
??: And there are two pilgrim- pilgrimage. One is the Korina[?] pilgrimage which takes three to seven days, and then the other one they make a big circle around the whole mountain that takes two weeks.
2:40

EA: It's a very popular place today a lot of people here. Tourists, but also pilgrims¿

2:50
[street sounds, people talking in BG]
??: Those pilgrims come from central Tibet, they are prostrating all the way down from Lasa[?] down to this sacred land. And you know some may die on the way. You can always say that every year, like there are like many pilgrims die on the pilgrimage way. Tibetan people if you can die on the pilgrimage, that's one of the luckiest thing that could happen to a pilg-- pilgrim.
3:30

EA: So, Jan you were saying that you've done some work up here?

3:32
[People talking, bells, in background]
JS: This is Felashe[?] and it's got some very famous sacred forests behind us are sacred oak forests and they have huge trees. Old old oak trees you can see the prayer flags hanging off of them and so on And so one of our studies-we did an initial study where we found out that plant diversity, useful plant species, endemic plant species are much more common are much more prominent in sacred sites than in non sacred sites.
4:13

[People talking, bells, in background]
JS: And so we then did a more refined study, comparing sacred sites with non sacred sites in-- but within the same same forest types to see if there were fine scale differences as well as these broad scale differences. And for example here we see these huge old oak trees in the sacred sites Whereas in the same type of oak forest across the in front of us the trees are still there its still oak forest but the trees are much younger growth, they're not as old.
4:53
[People talking, bells, in background]
JS: And so what we're trying to promote is the use of traditional beliefs and and with the marriage with conservation so that we don't have to just come in and set aside lands and and disrupt traditional practices, but we can use traditional practices for conservation purposes. The Tibetans keep reminding me that sacred sites are a much greater thing than just a conservation sites, which I fully acknowledge, I mean for them it's a connection with the ethereal with eternity with the universe which is [laugh] admittedly much greater than conservation but it works for conservation too, so let within ethnobotany we really believe that if we can use traditional practices and beliefs and knowledge for what may be modern I- concepts of conservation let's bring those two together [LOUD car horn] it makes it much more effective.
6:02

EA: Another example of that is the way you are working with Tibetan doctors.

6:09
[People talking, street sound in background]
JS: Well to do that study we were working with Tibetan doctors because we were interested in the uses of these plants in all of our work we are the Tibetan doctors are the ones who are most knowledgeable [faint motor sound getting louder] about plants they are trained in plants they know not only what plants are but [motor sound loud] what they can be used for. They are trained not only in [motor sound very loud] medicinal uses but in every other use as well. And so we almost all of our studies we work with Tibetan doctors. [motor sound fades] And as far as conservation goes, there again we recommended if we could, if conservation could partner with Tibetan doctors [honking] we would be using a very influential and knowledgeable portion of Tibetan society that who could be tremendous partners for us in conservation work.
7:07
[People talking, street sound in background]
JS: it's wonderful to work with these men. As a botanist, you feel like you are working with an equal. But on the other hand in a spiritual realm, they far exceed [honking] everything that I could ever hope to be, so um, it's wonderful to work with the Tibetan doctors.
7:29

EA: And their involvement lifts the stature¿

7:38
[talking, street sound in background]
JS: the stature of conservation work, in general, um, because the doctors are so well regarded within their community and hold such a high status that if we can partner with them, we automatically gain the attention of the whole community.
8:01

EA: What is a sacred site, when would it have been established? What happened with the oak forest, do we know?

8:06
[Talking, street sounds in background.]
JS: Well it's a very dynamic process, because sometimes sacred sites are, I mean, I have seen sacred sites established presently, so it's not all traditional. I mean it's a modern practice as well but many of them are ancient, ancient sacred sites I mean these mountains there's a line on the mountain above which all mountains are sacred and these are ancient practices.
8:38
[Talking, street sounds in background.]
JS: So there is no one thing that is a sacred site and it can be anything as small as a stone can be a sacred object, a sacred site a tree can be every family has a sacred tree that they will not talk about they will not tell you where it is. But is associated with a family, um there are sacred rivers, sacred mountains, anything can be a sacred area and it can be older, it can be new, so there's no-- it's very difficult. In our work we concentrated on the biological sacred sites but there are other sacred site as well.
9:17

EA: That's a great conservation ethic for the culture.

9:20
[Talking, street sounds in background.]
JS: Right and when they talk about conservation they don't just talk about you know biodiversity or something like that. They are talking about conservation of the earth and the stones and the mountains and everything is integrated into one sort of ethic.
9:38

EA: Which leads to sustainability. Right?

9:40
[Talking, street sounds in background.]
JS: Well, they have sustained their traditional ways of life for thousands of years. And much of what you see today, is it's a bit like stepping back into the middle ages, or stepping back, these practices have gone on. They have amazing conservation practices for everything from soil conservation to conservation of the landscape so¿
10:08

EA: Norbu[?] can you tell us about the climbers¿there's a line you're not supposed to pass¿

10:19
[Talking, street sounds in background.]
Norbu[?]: Because this is as I said a sacred mountain so you know local peoples you know not happy that people come here to offend the sacred mountain because they think if somebody offend the sacred mountain, then a, a disaster may happen to the villagers. And, because this is a sacred mountain so well respected by Tibetan people. And the locals are trying to stop all the climbers you know to climb it.
11:07
[Talking, street sounds in background.]
Norbu[?]: But in 1991 you know a group of Japanese mountaineers come here and try to conquer the sacred mountain and later you know all the mountaineers disappeared in a short time in like thirty minutes and all those mountaineers disappeared and people don't know what happened some people said because of avalanche and some people said because of snow storm and nobody knows what happens exactly to those mountaineers and after like nine or ten years later people you know gradually slowly found their bodies and the equipment in the very low elevation the accident happened at the 6000 elevation and when people found their body they found their body at 3000 meter elevation.
12:17

EA: Right where they should be

12:20
Norbu[?]: So, nobody know what happened exactly.

EA: [going to get ambience¿]

Ambience: talking, laughter, faint engine sound, honking.

EA: [wait for shenanigans]

13:19
EA: I mean there's incense swarming around us and prayer flags everywhere you look, and people prostrate¿to me it would be impossible to do conservation here without incorporating the spiritual.

13:36
JS: Well, I agree with you obviously that is my point of you that if you don't have the people with the conservation, how can it work. On the other hand I think it's a fairly new concept, for China, for many parts of the world incorporating our original models for conservation were Yellowstone where you set aside a piece of land and that's what conservation is all about.
14:05
But in many parts of the world, people are integrated much more intimately with nature than they may be in the US. Though I would argue as an ethnobotanist that we also are part of nature and if you ignore the human then you ignore reality. So as an ethnobotanist, I am very strongly in favor of incorporating people. Making sure that people understand, people are willing partners, people are active within, within conservation and within the management that needs to come along with conservation.
14:50

EA: let me rephrase, it seems impossible for conservation efforts to succeed without incorporating the human, spiritual aspects.

15:03
JS: Exactly, I agree that's what our efforts are for.

15:12
JS: The other thing we could talk about here is the glacier because we can see it so well¿

EA, JS, informal talking about incense, sins, plans for talking about glacier.

Talking, laughing, children voices,

LdA: going to walk around. I'll be a few minutes. Finished the interview. I'm going to walk around. These mountains ¿ unbelievable, beautiful. This layer of clouds 2/3 of way up the mountain. The locals call it the ¿scarf¿ of the mountain. Just going to record some ambience now.

16:50
Female voices.
Cars honking.
Engines Rev.
Honk.
Engine,
Honk.
Voices,
Footsteps on gravel.
18:30
Singing
Voices

18:45
Random lady talking to Leo, asks what he's doing.

Many voices talking, laughing.
Female voices
19:45
Shouts
20:17
Random person asks to take a picture with Leo.

Laughing
Honking

20:35
[Picture taking logistics]
Leo talking to people from Taipei who wanted to take pics with him.

21:24
LdA: ¿well, I'm kind of famous.¿

21:30
Voices talking.

22:30
Female voices

22:50

No Audio

22:55
Bike? bell ringing.
JS, EA, informal talking
Bike? bell
23:22

EA: Let's talk about this tree.

23:35
[Bike? bell still faintly ringing]
JS: This is a tsouga tsouga forestei[??]. Named after george forest who was one of the early collectors in this part of the world at the beginning of last century and it's usually found at much higher elevations and remote, but because we're sitting next to the glacier or where the glacier used to be, it cooled this area off this valley off and so you find range extensions you find trees that are normally at higher elevations coming down to lower because of the climate. But with climate change now it brings a lot of questions about what will happen to these because the valley is warming up, the glacier is receding and what's going to happen to these grand old trees that established themselves in microclimates that are now disappearing.
24:38

EA: The people recognized that something was special about this tree.

24:43
JS: It's also a sacred tree this area was part of our sacred study because the people recognized that this was an unusual phenomenon that it's not these trees aren't usually found at such low elevations. And they have stories and so on that go along with this tree
And so I think it would be not only an ecological loss if this tree were to die because of warming, but it would also be a cultural loss to the people.
25:17

EA: Nobu[?] tell me about this tree.

25:19
Nobu[?]: So this tree is called kangoma[?]. Kango is the name of a very wealthy family in the old days. So Ma means the family, so Kangoma is the name of this family. So this is the soul tree of the owner of this house who was very influential and powerful. You know leadership of Tibetan people while living in this region. His village is like twenty kilometers. Thirty kilometers from [?].
26:00

EA: Do lots of people have soul trees or only a few?

26:05
Nobu[?]: uh few in the old days most wealthy families has their own soul trees yeah.

EA: we're just below the glacier now.
Nobu[?]: very close to the glacier, yeah.
EA: and that's the only reason this tree was able to survive.
Nobu[?]: yeah

26:27
Nobu[?]: Nobody will touch it or cut it because this is soul tree.

26:35
JS: And there are lots of stories about people who have accidentally or purposefully cut sacred trees and then died or have gotten very ill.
Nobu[?]: Bad sickness, yeah.
EA: Oh, so don't mess with it.
JS: Yeah, currently as well as historical stories.
26:55
Nobu[?]: When Tibetan people get sick first they go to the living Buddha, not directly to the doctor, then the living Buddha will tell him why you get this sickness, then the reason is you cut the tree with soul, with somebody's soul so you get this sickness so first you have to go there to replant a tree. That is you know part of the whole process of how to be cured and the second you go to that doctor to get the medicine.
27:30

EA, JS, N, informal talk, laugh.
EA: seems like a lot of this is done for spiritual reasons, but it's also great for conservation, great for the environment.

27:52
JS: Where these tsouga tsouga trees are really exceptional. This species. There are not that many of them and I mean they are not endangered per say but they're this is a real tool for conservation. This tree will not be cut down. This will remain here and the people will respect it. So it's a great conservation tool. It's deeper than that. It's got a much broader meaning. [bike? bell]
28:18
Nobu[?]: souls not only reside in trees but also they reside in the water source, or certain rocks.
JS: And the glacier?
Nobu[?]: No.
JS: The glacier is larger than any single soul.
28:40

Bike? bell

Passerby greetings.

30:20
Women come up to Leo speak into microphone.

30:45
LdA: We're going up this footpath to the glacier that looks over this beautiful valley. It's been quite a trek, we've been at it for 45 minutes. Going to stop recording now. Beautiful view. Beautiful gigantic tall peaks. And right now at 14,000 feet, and we'll continue shortly.
31:32
Stops recording.

31:33
Starts recording again.
EA, JS, Translator. Informal talking about which questions to ask.

EA, JS: Has there been any change in the glacier, how has that effected people's lives?
Translator asks

32:45
Translator [voice interspersed with WJS[?] speaking Chinese(?)]: The glacier used to reach down there. He still remembers that twenty years ago when he first time came here you know the glacier was there, down there. So now rotated a lot. Still rotated.

EA: It's a longer walk [laugh]
Translator, ??, [laugh]
33:52
[bells in background]
He thinks that the first reason is global warming, cause the rotatement of the glacier. And the second reason is uh, 1980 80s, there was a lot of logging so that was probably another reason to cause the rotatement of the glacier.
34:17

EA: Are people worried about it?

[answers in Chinese, bells, voices in background]

34:55
Translator: So the glacier is one of the tourism resources of the locals so people are really worried. Locals are really worried to lose this resource. They had workshop in 2000 with the TNC, so that time they talked a lot about how to protect this environment, and how to sustainable use. The natural resources here, how to you know protect and use and how people can get the most maximum benefit, economic benefit and also to reduce the uh how do you say, nactive?? Destruction to the nature.
35:45

[Speaks in Chinese]

36:08
Translator: That time they wrote a letter, long letter sent to the state council and the premier read them the letter and then you know replied that This mountain should be never allowed to anybody to climb. We should pay respect to the local culture and respect to the local people's feeling. So now this is this mountain becomes you know forbidden mountain for the climbers.
36:45

EA: He's a sociologist? Can he talk about how important nature is to people's lives here?
Translator: [in Chinese]
WJS[?]: [Answers in Chinese]

37:36
Translator: Last year they had a workshop, conference, international conference in Shang Ri La and they were mainly talking about what is the theory or spirit of Shang Ri La you know how to be harmony with nature how to be harmony with the minorities people you know among people and you know they were talking about this issue last year.
38:05

WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese.
38:21
Translator: And also last year the second main issue was talking about talking about
what is the uh¿[consults in Chinese]¿what is the happy life, what is the criterion of the happy life and you know¿

[consults in Chinese]

38:47
Translator: So they talked last year that you know you have cars and all the modern like subjects but if you lose a good environment to live, is it happy life or not?
39:07

[birds chirping in background]

WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
39:24
Translator: So from last year's conference you know the conclusion is humans should use the resources in a sustainable way and in a nice way, not to rob, not rob the nature's resources, natural resources.
39:46

WJS[?]; Speaks in Chinese
Translator: so this can guarantee the human to have a good environment for long term use.
40:00

WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
40:15
Translator: So this can give people a good living condition living environment.

WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
40:33
Translator: So otherwise people will be driven by some short-term benefit and to you know to destroy the environment.
40:43

EA: What's he doing here today?
Translator: Asks in Chinese
WJS[?]: Answers in Chinese
40:50
Translator: come here to worship the mountain with some of his friends
40:55

EA: can he talk to use a little about the mountain?
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
41:08
Translator: So the real name of the mountain is Kakebu.
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: So it's a sacred mountain, but now it's widely you know recognized as a [mainly snow mountain]?? So it's real name is Kakebu.
41:28

Consulting in Chinese

41:40
Translator: So that's uh Dexu[?] is a Tibetan Buddha a very big Buddha, so that his palace This mountain is the palace and also this is the place where the Buddha of lotus
who is the Buddha brought Tibetan Buddha to Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism to Tibet. So this is the place where he meditates.
42:06

??: Speaking in Chinese
42:13
Translator: People strongly believes if they can come here worship once in life then next life and this life you will have a lot of fortune. Especially next life
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: This is one of the most famous sacred mountain in the whole Tibetan region
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: So once people come here to do the pilgrimage, then all the pilgrims strongly believe or confident that next life will be much better than this life.
WJS[?]:Speaks in Chinese
43:04
Translator: Thousands of pilgrims come to this place to worship the mountain. They are from Shanghai[?] province, from central Tibet, from Sichuan province or many other places.
43:18
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: And 800 years ago kamobashe [??] is a living Buddha very famous living Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism so he came here and wrote a poem about this mountain.
43:37
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: After that more people come to visit this place.
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: There are many, many sacred sites and sceneries.
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
4354
Translator: There are two pilgrimage one is the inner one, the other is the outer one, outer pilgrimage.
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: The inner one takes around five days
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: So the outer one normally takes two weeks, fifteen days, something.
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: And the pilgrims are from very long distance for them, take longer time. Some you know takes like a month to finish the whole pilgrimage.
44:36

EA: How often has he been here?
Translator: what do you mean?
EA: How often has he been here?
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: Depends
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
44:51
Translator: Twenty five years ago, that was his first time to come to this place
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: At that time there was no transportation They walked here all the way.
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: No road, no transportation
EA: No guard rail.
[all laugh]
45:18
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
Translator: So that time they were doing cultural research in this prefecture so they walked all the way to WeeShee that's another county up to this place

EA: Can he give us his name and position so that we can identify him?
Translator: [asks in Chinese]
WJS[?]: Speaks in Chinese
46:00
Translator: So his name is Whi Jou Song [???] the president of Tibetan and cultural research and institute.

EA: Can you thank him very much for a very spontaneous surprise interview?
Translator: Thanks...
WJS[?]: Answers
Translator: Thank you very much to pay attention to this place, to pay attention to the protection of this area.
46:32

Ambi: [Birds chirping, sound of rushing water?? Or trees in wind??]

49:25
LdA: OK that was just ambience at the site of the interview which was on the overlook to the glacier. It's gorgeous. Yellow finches flying around, one was curious about my microphone anyway, that's it I'm going to stop now.

49:48

49:49
Starts taping again
LdA: all right, rolling. Interview overlooking glacier. Temple, incredible view, peaks, prayer banners.

[walking]

LdA: Woah look at this. What a site. Foothills of glacier. To die for.

[walking]

51:40
LdA: need to check mics.

[walking]

52:18
LdA: OK, I am going to adjust here. At an overlook. Positioning self. Here we go.

[faint voices]

LdA, EA: positioning logistics.
54:59

[walking, breathing]

55:45
LdA: waiting for guys to get at next overlook. I'm rolling ever

56:20
[faint voices: JS, EA exclaiming]

[everybody out of breath]
56:27
EA: hey wayne, can we get an elevation check?
W: yeah 30005
EA: in feet.
W: in feet? Oh I don't know, I don't even know what the calculation is.
JS: three times and then add a bunch
EA: three times, really is that what it is? Ok so what is it? It's like hectares. What is a hectare!?
JS: 2.2 acres. Who's ever heard of an acre anywhere else except the US?
EA: actually what you say is Elizabeth, it's high you're breathing heavy. It's high. It's not high.
W: It's not high. Dequin's higher than this.
EA: Oh really?
W: Yeah 322.
JS: What's this?
W: 300
EA: ok well then it's not altitude, it's just climbing
JS: Us.
[Laugh]
W: well you're still at above a mile high.
JS: a lot above a mile high.

57:28
EA: OK Jan where are we?
57:31
JS: Well this is MinYong[?] glacier. In Tibetan it has another name.
??: Meo Cha [?]
JS: Meo Cha [?]
??: Meo Cha [?] Cha means glacier. Meo is the name of the village down there¿ so this is Meo glacier.
57:48
JS: And it's the main glacier that's coming off of Koagabo the sacred mountain. And the glacier itself is also sacred but this is the site that we. Is the the best evidence for us at the present time that there is warming at this site because like elsewhere in the world the glacier is retreating at a very rapid rate. We can tell. We have pictures of the same glacier from the same point that Joseph Rock took and other early explorers in this area from over a hundred years ago.
58:34
JS: Um that shows the glacier much deeper much wider and much longer. So we know that this glacier has been retreating elsewhere in the world you know they have year by year measurements for over long periods of time, and here we don't have that but we know the same thing is going on. So it's a lot warmer here now than it was a hundred years ago.
59:00

EA: So we know that's going on. A skeptic here. I mean the glacier recede, that's what they do. Is this one retreating at a much faster pace¿?
JS: than other glaciers?
EA: a much faster pace than it has been in the past?
59:15
JS: Well we on;y have We don't have that many time periods to compare with. We have the old photographs and we have now uh we have evidence over the last twenty years, personal evidence But as to whether it is receding faster now, I don't think we have that evidence
59:39

EA: But something's going on
JS: Oh definitely. And there's definitely warming. There's no-- very little question about that.

59:47
EA: And why is that a concern, or is it?

59:51
JS: Well, the effects of global warming are, I mean there are a lot of models done but it's a lot of conjecture on and how that's going to effect the world
EA: I mean to you though, on what you're doing here.
1:00:10
JS: Well that's part of the reason that we're studying the alpine areas is to find out what the effect of this warming is on alpine plants that live in the highest and coldest areas.
and to find out if and how quickly plants are moving up the mountains and what in the world is happening to those plants at the very highest regions where the their more able competitors are coming up from down below so that's I won't be able to answer that question for at least another ten years, [laugh] if then.
1:00:54

EA: And people are studying the movement of this glacier.

1:00:58
JS: um yeah, the nature conservancy has started a new program where they come back every year, they have a climate change program, and they come back every year and photograph the glacier and they've only done it for a couple years. But even in those couple of years they can see the dist-the difference dramatically. I mean with my own eyes, just my own observation. When I started coming here six years ago, the holes in the glacier were not has big. And the surface of the glacier was less, it's becoming honeycombed and really irregular and there's a lot of parts of it are falling off and so on, and you can see that in a very short time. So although we don't have long term records, something's happening, as you said.
1:01:48

EA: Sounds to me like you are seeing what should be the top of the glacier¿
1:02:08
JS: The bottom of the glacier is moving up so we're seeing--

1:02:15
EA: Do you think if plants are pushed up it will have an effect on people's lives?
1:02:23
JS: Well The most immediate effect that we can tell is that you know Tibetan medicines are predominant at those very high elevations. They get Tibetan medicines from all elevations, we've shown that but the I don't know if you noticed but when we got to the very high elevations the doctor that we had with us just really got excited and started pointing to plants. The one that they kind of identify with as as as Tibetan medicines are often those very high alpine plants. The other thing that can be effected, the Tibetans rely a lot on grazing land in the high alpine area and that may change. How if the treeline moves up and how grazing is effected would be another thing to look at.
1:03:19

1:03:20
EA: Did you hear that? That's the glacier. The glacier talking. Oh I can see it. Do you see it? It's right there.

1:03:31
EA: Are people worried about climate change? Do you come across it anecdotally?
JS: ¿What I hear anecdotally people talking about you know if somebody has done something wrong, or. They try to attribute this change to human actions and they're very worried about what they're doing wrong that would be bringing this on and the effects of it in the future are worrisome.
1:04:03
JS: I mean some of the villages the high villages the very high villages it's kind of a bring it on attitude, like ¿maybe it will get a little warmer here.'
EA: That's true in the artic as well
JS: But the villages down below are drying out and they're becoming hotter and hotter and it's a very unpleasant atmosphere so it depends on who you're talking to.
1:04:28

EA: but the question is those who are concerned, what is causing it or what are they doing wrong, or what are we doing wrong¿

1:04:33
JS: And they'll blame it on any number of causes. I've gotten blamed a couple times [EA laugh] you know, it's raining a lot this year, we think that you should stay off the mountain because we must be angering someone.
1:04:51
JS: So it's you know, I think they're confused and and scared by the whole thing. I mean can identify, I feel the same way. [laugh]

1:05:04
EA: how many years have you been working in this region?
JS: six
EA: you've seen changes in the glacier, have you seen changes in plant life?
1:05:13
JS: Nothing that I'd be really willing to stand behind. What I have seen in plant life if you look again If you look at the old photographs, you can see treeline moving up. Um you can see an extension of the forest. There are a number of reasons for that or potential reasons besides global warming. There have been bans on agriculture at high elevations now, or on steep slopes now. So that has changed what's going on. But um I mean that's trying to quantify what might be observation. I you know, I don't trust my personal observation. So that's part of the point of science, to try to quantify what I think might be going on.
1:06:04

EA: Let's talk a little about the joseph rock photos and what you are able to do with them in terms of comparisons.

1:06:12
JS: well it isn't only climate change that we use the photos for it's change in general
And there's a lot of change in this region. Um again in only the six years that I've been here I've seen enormous change. But we took the photos- Joseph Rock went to many of the same villages that we're working in and took wonderful, beautiful photos from the early part of last century. And so we took those photos into the villages and gathered the elders together, the oldest people in the village and asked them to look at the photos to tell us what they remembered in the photos to interpret the photos as much as they could and then to ask them how have things changed what's different now from what's in the photo and to ask them to interpret that change.
1:07:07
JS: Why is it different how is it different and then just general recollections on their part You know it's kind of an open-ended interview just to see what they're thinking about. And they just love it. I mean, we have the greatest photographs of people looking at photographs these old people and having the greatest time among themselves remembering what their childhood was like and so on.
1:07:34
JS: And things have changed a lot, but not a lot at the same time. Um surprisingly in this area we actually seem to have more forest now than we had before. So there's a-forestation rather than deforestation. So there's some very good news as well, um a lot of the farming that you saw done a hundred years ago is still being done today in much the same way. The farming systems are very much in tact and functioning very well still.
1:08:13
JS: The number of houses seems to have increased somewhat. We're a little loathe to put an interpretation, a population interpretation on that because at the moment there are so few people who live in any one house. Um you know people can have one or at most two children among Tibetans. Um and uh so there may be these huge houses may have as few as three people living in them. So it's a little hard to make population generalizations but there do seem to be more houses than there were before.
1:08:50

EA: Can you make any scientific comparisons or is that not trustworthy enough?

1:08:56
JS: Well you know it depends on what you're calling science. I mean we're certainly in an anthropological sense these are scientific comparisons And we're getting corroboration from more than one person, agreement among people on both what's happening and what the processes are. So that's a kind of scientific interpretation
1:09:24
JS: But it was having those old photographs was a great way of eliciting information from old people that otherwise might be afraid to talk to me or reticent to just start blabbering on about their childhood. But once they saw the photographs everything loosened up it was great.
1:09:47

EA: Like a pin prick. [JS: right, right] Because then they could remember what was going on.

1:09:52
EA: And you asked people about how life was then and now?

1:10:57
JS: right yeah I was well a lot of the joseph rock photos show a very hard life. People dressed in very in clothing that I can't imagine being out in the winter in that clothing
And you know really living a difficult life and almost every person we talked to said without hesitation, oh, life is much better now than it was.
1:10:27
JS: Everyone is afraid and afraid of losing tradition. And not only afraid but also anxious to-- Actively trying to continue Tibetan traditions. There's a real cultural revival going on now. But nonetheless they acknowledge the fact that life is better now than it was
¿not only acknowledge but hardily endorse the fact.

EA: the majority. Which is amazing. Because you talk to people in other countries and they harken back to the old days.
JS: Well it depends.

1:11:07
EA: Now here's a hard assignment. We're in this spectacular place ¿ how do we describe it?
1:11:17
JS: We're standing midway on this sacred mountain Koagabo[?]. With the snows above us and the peaks and the clouds coming
EA: Blue sky.
JS: Blue sky. HOT. Which is a change. [laugh] and this immense glacier coming off of these scarred rocks down from the top of the mountain. With gorgeous evergreen forests on both sides. And the and the glacial rivers running of it, it is it's spectacular. I feel very privileged to be working here.
1:11:57
EA: would this run down into the Mekong river?
JS: It does, yes. It feeds the Mekong which goes all the way from here to the Himalayas down to Vietnam. These are, and there are three rivers parallel rivers. This is the three parallel river world heritage site. And they run within a very small distance of one another here. One going into Bangladesh, one going to Vietnam, and the other one going into the Yangtze, exiting in china. Some of the major rivers in Asia start here, so this is a very special place.
1:12:37

EA: missing anything here? Talk more about medicinal stuff in the market, more about Gloria stuff tomorrow. And what a good gig you have.
JS, EA: laugh

1:13:20

Ambi: faint rushing water, birds chirp

1339
EA: forgot to describe prayer flags.
1:13:49
JS: we've got these blue and white and red and green and yellow and orange prayer flags all around us. So beyond the natural colors we've got the cultural colors. Of this cultural revival that's happening in Tibet right now. You know twenty to thirty years ago you wouldn't have seen a single prayer flag. People are just embracing their traditions tremendously, it's an amazing process to see. In a lot of other places I've worked in the world, we're trying so desperately to save cultures and save traditions and here the people are just flocking to it. So that's something very special here too.

1:14:43

Ambi: waterfall, birds.

1:15:17
LdA: wind picking up. At overlook. Big glacier waterfalls coming down. Crank up level a little bit.

1:15:56
Ambi: glacier waterfalls, birds chirping

1:19:20
LdA: OK, I guess that is good enough for now¿OK, I'm going to continue to roll, let's see what happens.
1:19:32

1:19:45
LdA: OK, let me rearrange here, we're waiting actually believe it or not for the glacier to melt, so¿.

1:19:57
Ambi: rushing water

1:20:20
EA, LdA chatting abt what to record

1:20:52
LdA: Walking down the hill here at the end of the day.

1:20:57
Ambi: footsteps on gravel. Faint talking.

1:21:29
Whistle

Ambi: footsteps on gravel. Faint talking.

1:23:20
LdA: getting too much mic noise from moving around. Needs to get ahead to be stationary.

1:24:00
LdA: try to record without moving much.

1:24:14
Ambi: Bird
1:24:38
Ambi: footsteps on gravel
1:24:53

Ambi: glacier falls, birds.

1:25:50
LdA: going to stop.
Stops recording

No audio.

1:26:24
END OF TAPE.

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