Mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears has been climbing in the Himalaya for almost 30 years. He’s climbed to the top of Mount Everest five times –"four times too many" he says now — and he knows the topography of the region about as well as anyone else on the planet. Now, rather than conquering mountains, he’s using his knowledge and experience to conquer ignorance.
He has been combing the musty stacks of libraries and archives for old photographs of the Himalaya, and then going back to the exact locations to make modern pictures. He’s come back with the evidence of the loss of glaciers all over the world, documenting the present and accelerating reality of global warming for all to see.
Last week, he was at the Asia Society in New York for a conference called Meltdown: The Impact of Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau where he filled a wall with two panoramic images of Mount Everest and its surrounding glaciers. One was taken in 1921; the other, Breashears took in 2008.
Eyeball the pictures and you’ll see less ice for sure; but you won’t understand the enormous scale of the loss of ice until he explains it to you. He explained it to us on video.
Please watch it.
And if you don’t know who Breashears is, here are a few facts for starters. He broadcast the first live television pictures from the summit of Mount Everest in 1983. A decade later, he co-directed and co-produced the first IMAX movie shot on the world’s highest mountain. In 1997, he made the first live audio webcast from the summit. He’s won four Emmys and written a number of books. Just Google the guy and you’ll get more than 62,000 hits.