Leaving for the Far West of Nepal

Posted by Chris Crews on Friday Oct 17, 2014 Under journal, political ecology, religion, travelog

Well, the time has come for me to depart from Kathmandu, Nepal, where I have spent the past few days, and head out to the Humla district in the far northwest of Nepal, where I will be spending the next two and a half weeks traveling, talking with local communities, and surveying the local landscape for a research project I am involved with called the Sacred Himalaya Initiative.

Our trip will take us from Simikot, the district capital, due west to Hilsa, which is on the border with Tibet, staying in tea houses along the trail. We’ll follow the Karnali River for most of this trek, with the first big challenge being crossing Nara La (4620 m) on the way to Hilsa, the border town between Nepal and Tibet. From there we head northeast up into the Limi Valley area, which has more of a Tibetan lama influence. There we will trek up through several villages (Til, Jang, etc) and walk along the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and above the Karnali River. Here we will be camping for several days before going through the Nyalu La pass (4949 m), which will give us a panoramic view of the surrounding area, including being able to see the sacred Mt. Kailash to the northwest. From this high pass we then wind our way down to the Lake Sema Tso, and take this valley heading back south to Simikot.


Chances are I won’t have any internet connection after we reach Simikot tomorrow, so here are a few photos from Kathmandu before leaving, and a shot of our team of adventurers. If I ever get an internet connection, I will try to post some photos and updates here as well.

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These days my first reaction is to prepare to cringe whenever I see a headline with the Anthropocene in it, which is ironic given that this is also my dissertation topic. How about that! More seriously, what I am always hesitant about is seeing the growing meme of the “good Anthropocene” which, now even Diane Ackerman is writing about. This is really a shame, as I enjoyed her earlier work A Natural History of the Senses when I read it. But it seems that Ackerman, like so many other well-meaning but ill-informed liberals, has bought into the myth of the “good Anthropocene” and the dream of technological salvation. Since I have several news alerts setup to track this topic, I always see what is new and trending on the Anthropocene, and I think the critical review in the Toronto Star by Kate Allen is spot on. Here’s an excerpt from her review of Ackerman’s new book, called The Human Age:

How would you feel if you killed your mother? Pretty bad, probably.

Humanity — the whole whack of us — is suffering from wide-scale psychological trauma of a similar kind, Diane Ackerman believes.

“I think maybe we’re walking around with a sort of mass depression about what we are doing. We refer to the planet as female: Mother Earth. Mother Nature. Okay, now we’re being told that we are killing our mother, our mother is going to die, and it is our fault.”

Ackerman, the best-selling author, poet and naturalist, has just the fix: her new book The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us, a lyrically-wrought romp through some of the innovative solutions, adaptations and modifications our species has created for our broken planet and our increasingly hot and uncomfortable place in it.

If you buy Ackerman’s diagnosis of collective malaise, this book is a balm. From green roofs to aquaculture, the spirit of The Human Age is clear: if we embrace our capacity for creativity, we might still be okay.

“We are going in the right direction. We know what to do. We just have to get motivated. And there is absolutely no way to do that if all that we are confronted with is doom and gloom,” Ackerman says.

But there is one critical question Ackerman fails to answer, and I am not the first to ask it: Who is “we”?

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So I just ran across the new media campaign by Conservation International, called Nature is Speaking. I have to say, it is very slick, and a nice change of pace from the usual fluffy koalas, arctic polar bears and the like that most of the big green NGOs inevitably use in their ad campaigns to tug on human heart-strings and call for change. CI takes a refreshingly different approach in their new campaign. Their “Humanifesto” starts with this sentence: “Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature.” It then continues:

Human beings are part of nature.
Nature is not dependent on human beings to exist.

Human beings, on the other hand, are totally
dependent on nature to exist.

The growing number of people on the planet
and how we live here is going to determine the future of nature.
And the future of us.

Nature will go on, no matter what.
It will evolve.

The question is, will it be with us or without us?

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If you’ve been paying attention to current affairs at all this month, you probably know that the People’s Climate March took place this Sunday (9/21) here in NYC. This was followed by the Flood Wall Street action on Monday (9/22), which shut down traffic around the Wall St and Stock Exchange area in the Financial District of lower Manhattan. And on Tuesday (9/23), Ban Ki-Moon will be hosting a mini climate summit with many, but not all, of the world leaders at the UN. All of this has taken place in the context of the Climate Week NYC, although many events are also taking place all across the country and the world. One estimate during the march said there were over 2,800 different events taking place in more than 160 countries. Estimates the day after the People’s Climate March were between 325,000 and 400,000 people marching on Sunday, making it the largest climate march in history. Read More

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Catching A Breath

Posted by Chris Crews on Thursday Sep 4, 2014 Under journal, site announcement

These days it seems like it is hard to blink without missing something important happening, either in your own life or that of someone else. It seems like just yesterday that we were still in the full flush of spring, yet it is suddenly now September. All I can really say is yikes, or zoinks, or jinkies!

As any of my regular readers will have noticed, I’ve been woefully neglecting my writing duties here on my own blog. Ironically enough, I have about 25 saved draft posts from all kinds of exciting stories over the past few months, but someone I never seemed to go from the ‘press this’ bookmark moment to an expanded post. So what I will probably do sometime soon is simply compile a bunch of those into a few extended posts highlighting interesting or important stories from recent weeks and months, rather than pretend I am going to go back and actually turn each one into a full fledged post–cause it ain’t gonna happen. Until then, bare with me a little longer, as I have a few other website and writings projects I am trying to wrap up and move on from, which will give me more time to get back to you lot and my personal writings. Read More

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