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When the president of the Maldives and the prime minister of Nepal held cabinet meetings under water and on Mount Everest, respectively, to raise awareness of global warming, environmentalist and politician Tshering Tobgay perceived the acts as mere political stunts. But when Tobgay learned of the devastation the climate crisis was wreaking on his native Bhutan, he took note. Therein lies the nub of the issue: People lack the will to mitigate the climate crisis until it begins to affect them personally. In a powerful TED Talk, Tobgay appeals to nations to abandon the think-globally-act-locally paradigm in favor of a think-globally-act-regionally model. Tobgay’s analysis paints a bleak picture. His depiction of the climate crisis portrays a lost cause, and his proposal for more focused intergovernmental dialogue may instigate much talk but little action. Nevertheless, his message is critical, and the world’s inhabitants must act with urgency.


The globe’s third-largest reserve of glacial ice, located in the Hindu Kush Himalaya mountains, is melting rapidly.

In February 2019, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) issued a report projecting that a rise in global temperature of 1.5°C [2.7°F] over preindustrial levels would melt a full third of the glacial ice in the Hindu Kush, the world’s “third pole,” by 2100.

Such a massive retreat of the glacial ice would have devastating consequences for South and Southeast Asia, causing flash flooding across the region. Alas, a 1.5°C change is a best-case scenario; it’s likely that the globe will heat up significantly more than that, melting even more of the ice more rapidly.

Rising temperatures and pollution generate a positive feedback loop that accelerates the ...

About the Speaker

Environmentalist Tshering Tobgay served as prime minister of Bhutan from 2013 to 2019. He leads the People’s Democratic Party in Bhutan.

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