Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘geography

Karakoram and Hindu Kush (north Pakistan): World concentrated glaciers and tallest Peaks

Bordering China, Kashmir, Afghanistan and the central Asian countries are the regions of the most concentrated highest peaks and glaciers and the sources of the Braldu, Shyok, and Indus River (forking westward toward Pakistan and eastward toward India).

Have heard of Karakoram and Hindu Kush regions in North Pakistan and the Baltistan district (with capital Skardu) near the Kashmir borders?

Have you heard of the K2 Peak, the second highest at 8,611 m?

From left and going clockwise you can see on the map the Tower of Muztagh (7,273 m), Broad Peak (8,047 m), Gasherbrum I (8,068 m), Gasherbrum II (8,035 m), Masherbrum (7,821 m), Nanga Parbat (8, 1236 m), Rakaposhi (7,788 m), Ogre (7,285)….

Have you heard of the glaciers Hispar, Biafo, Baltoro, Concordia, Godwin-Austin, Sachsen (where the Pakistani and Indian armies shell one another for the Kashmir region)…?

You find the vast and highest valleys of Shigar, Hushe, Hunzu, Charpursan

The late photographer Galen Rowell (died in an aviation accident in 2002) spent decades of his life to filming this region evanescent beauty.

The road leading to Balistan follow the gorges of the powerful Indus River: There is no other alternative route that the Indus failed to dig in this mountainous region. Most of the deaths in Pakistan are from road accidents, of treacherous side roads off the main highway to China.

The biologist George Schaller trekked the Karakoram in 1973 studying the whereabouts of the Blue Sheep (bhoral) or ibex and wrote in “Stones of Silence“:

My trekking trips were marked by difficulty and deception. But the mountains are like appetite  They did deeper. My hunger for the Karakoram grew by the days…”

The companion of Schaller, Peter Matthiessen wrote the master piece “The Snow Leopard

This vast region is where the Baltis ethnic people dwell.

According to the book “Three cups of tea“, the Baltis are originally from Tibet. They emigrated 6 century ago and adopted the Chiaa Moslem sect. They are mostly short, robust, and most adapted to high altitudes like the Sherpas of the Himalaya mountain chains (Nepal) and the Indians of the Andes chain in South America.

In 1958, the Italian Fosco Maraini who participated in the Gasherbrum 4 expedition  expanded at length on this ethnic group:

“They constantly plot, complain, and frustrate you to the highest level. They emanate an air of bandits, but they have great qualities: They are honest, cheerful, loyal, and have a great resistance to fatigue. You see skinny people carrying 40 kilos through treacherous paths with the ease of people carrying nothing…”

Note 1: After Sept.11, 2001, Greg Mortenson was back in Pakistan to build one of his 80 primary schools for girls in the Karakoram region. The CIA wanted information on the people of this region and the names and addresses of the people on the payroll in Pakistan of the Central Asia Institutes. Greg refused because he will be a dead man if he did, and his mission will be tainted.

The 4 CIA men in grey 4-pieces suits wanted to know the religious sects of the communities (tribes) in North Pakistan. You have the Khowars, Kohistanis, Shinas, Torwalis, Kalamis… The Kalash is an animist tribe. The CIA felt discouraged: The further they diverted from general categories (Sunni, Chiaa..) the more impossible it became to get a good clean-cut understanding

Note 2. Have you heard of the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan?

One day, Greg Mortenson was close to the borders with North Afghanistan in the town of Zuudkan when a group of Kirghiz horsemen crossed the pass of Irshad to meet with him: They got wind of Doctor Greg’s presence who build schools for girls and wanted him to visit the Wakhan Corridor.

The Wakhan Corridor is this long stretch of land, a tongue, sandwiched between Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China, where opium is trafficked and distributed to Russia and China via the passes of Irshad and Khundjerab. This is an extension of the Panjshir Valley region in north-east Afghanistan that the Taliban could not enter. The only access was through the Salang tunnel, which warlord Massoud detonated as the Taliban tried to expand northward.

Note 3: A few words in the Baltis language, an archaic Tibetan version:

Gangs-zhing: glacier

Rdo-rut: avalanche

Brad-lep: Flat rock

Kurba: small round rocks used to cook bread on

Zindabad: wonderful

Mar: rancid butter of yak milk

Gorak: Vulture

Biango: roasted chicken

Lassi: chapati

Urdwa: woolen bonnet ornated with pearls, shells, and ancient money pieces

Zamba: rope bridge in yak hair

Topi: cap in mutton wool

Nurmadhar: village chief

Balti: Central space in a house

Tchizaley? What are you doing here?

Naswar: Green tobacco for chewing

Shalval Kamiz: loose pant and long shirt (Sherwal/Qamis in Arabic)

The long-term “Revenge of Geography”; (Oct. 30, 2009)

In ancient times, oceans, seas, high mountain chains, vast deserts, large rivers, and lakes formed natural barriers that separated settled tribes from nomadic ones.  Eventually, rivers were no longer major barriers for demographic explosions and warrior-like tribes; deserts were sort of conquered with caravans of camels by 2,000 BC that originated in Yemen; mountain chains could be overcome when the other side did not offer any worthy hardships for the wealth and bounty of fertile lands.  The Mediterranean Sea was the playground for commerce and trade of the Greeks, Phoenician City-States of Sidon, Tyr, and Byblos; later Carthage, the Roman Empire, and the Byzantium Empire conquered this sea.  Major oceans were criss-crossed by the gigantic Chinese fleet as early as 1000 AC that reached the Arabic Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.  By the 15th century, Portugal and then Spain conquered the Pacific and then the Atlantic and started the colonial period that lasted five centuries and is still going on under different labels and forms.

“It is man who has the power to create; it is nature that commands to a large extent” said Harold Mackinder in 1904.  To Mackinder, the “Heartland zone” of earth is that vast land forming Russia, Central Asia, and parts of Central Europe.  All imperial military and economic strategies such as the British and the USA were based on encircling this “heartland” with military and trade zones. 

Russia was plagued by invasions from Mongolia and Central Asia and thus, to create durable buffer zones Russia countered by expanding into that “heartland” toward Siberia in the East, Central Asia toward Turkey and Iran, and then toward Central Europe in the West.  China also suffered from relentless invasions from Mongolia and the south east civilizations and endeavored to expand westward into Tibet and Central Asia and southward into South-East Asia.  Europe turned overseas since the 15th century to open up and conquer trade implants and then colonize the bordering regions around the “pivotal heartland”.  The 13 federated states in America expanded to the Pacific Ocean and toward Mexico.

Along the borders of the “Heartland pivot land” there are natural blocks of lands such as the South-East (from Vietnam to Burma or Maynamar with their jungles); the Indian sub-continent with the Himalaya and the Indo-Kouch mountain chains which include all of current Pakistan, then you have Iran that includes all of Afghanistan, then you have Turkey and the Caucasus. That is how the 21st century is looking like when all is settled.

The main power will reside on who control the sources of the major rivers.  China has conquered Tibet because three main rivers take their sources from the Himalaya mountain chains; mainly the Mekong (that flow into the South East), the Indus (that flow in Pakistan), and the Brahmapoutre that flow in India and join the Gange River.  China has already built 86,000 dams along the Blue and Yellow Rivers that take sources on the western plateaus; China has not consulted with the South East countries and has already built four mega dams on the Mekong, including two huge lakes that will take about 10 years to fill in order to generate hydraulic power.

Turkey controls two huge rivers the Euphrates and the Tiger that flow in Syria and Iraq.  Turkey has been building dams on these rivers without consulting with the southern neighboring States.  Ethiopia is in control of the Nile if it wishes to.  The US has been building dams along rivers that flow into Mexico.

The USA would like you to believe that there are no natural borders for its military might. That is not a half truth; it is a lie and a psychological propaganda.  Planes, missiles, tanks, and navy do not conquer lands: it is the walking soldier that does this job in order to retain any conquered land. If there is the will to resist in a rough geographic landscape then there can be no conquest. The US used all kinds of defoliate gas (Orange gas) in the jungles of Vietnam but it had to declare defeat and retreat in total chaos; it is already preparing plans to retreat from Afghanistan; it gave up rapidly after the first major skirmish in Somalia.  If the US managed to enter Baghdad it is because there was no will to resist by the people: they wanted to get rid of despot Saddam Hussein; the US is packing up and leaving next year after pressuring the Iraqis to sign an agreement.

Yes, we are witnessing the era of “Anthropocene” which means man is doing more damages to the environment than nature can stabilize but the main reality is there to account for: sources of water.  China, Turkey, Russia, USA, and Brazil control sources of major rivers.  The main struggle in the medium-term is who will control the Nile, the Congo, and Niger Rivers in Africa. Water desalination of Oceans and the towing of icebergs will do for a while but cannot resolve a long-term problem in water shortages.  Actually, huge displacement of people from megapolis to near water sources will have to be undertaken because of the huge investment of supplying water to big urban cities and in order to recover sub-terrain naps and natural ecosystems.

The perpetual rising sun around the globe (July 20, 2009)

I had this urge of witnessing dawn, rising everywhere on earth in 24 hours.  This is very feasible with a versatile landing flying jet.

It does not matter where you start; pick a location on your globe; go there, arrange your visual and sound apparatus and wait for dawn to smile.  Enjoy the scenery, take pictures and video.

Then fly quickly to another destination, land, and repeat the procedure for 24 hours.

You should plan for different variations in scenery. You may start by landing just in vast plains for 24 hours;  in just deserts, on chain mountain tops, in deep valleys, then on water masses such as oceans, seas, and large lakes.

You may repeat this experiment with selecting appropriate man-made monuments and then compare what changed in dawn’s glory.

You may repeat the experiment in various seasons; in various lunar status, in various planet realignments.

Does dawn changes? What dawn would you prefer?

Would you select a location in your retirement to just watch your preferred dawn?

Would that be worth the investment?

Project dawn is very feasible and anyone with deep pocket could do it and then share the beauty of nature at dawn.  It would be advisable to record also the sounds of birds, wild life, the wind, nature awakening to dawn.

Take measurements of many parameters of the climate: who knows? Maybe dawn is different with a combination of environmental parameters since it is all perception after all.

Since we started with dawn, how about studying the setting sun for 24 hours around the globe?  What about noon?

“The Obsession for State Borders” by Michel Foucher (January 7, 2009)

I have written on State borders problems in two previous articles; this one is on a happy realization in several parts on earth.

There is this concept that is taking effect on a large scale for resolving border problems:  reserving delimiting zones as natural preserves and void of any military presence.

Up to now, it seems that 10% of the total area of natural conservation projects is of this nature.

For example:

1. Along the borders of Poland and Byelorussia we have this primary forest of Bialowieza.  T

2. he tri-national park of Prespa delimits the borders among Albania, Greece, and Macedonia.

3. The Trifinio natural reserve among the three Central American States of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador is inhabited by 700,000 people managed by 45 communes. 

4. In south of Africa the “Park for Peace“, large as Italy, delimit the frontiers of the States of Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Zambia, and Bostwana.

It seems that between 2004 and 2006, at least 8 secret meetings between the Syrians and Israelis negotiated borders resolution by creating natural reserves on Lake Tiberiade; the Israelis would have access to two snow skiing resorts in the Golan without visa requirements.

Brazil has borders with all States in South America except Chili and Equator.  Brazil resolved the problems of its 17,000 km borders using aerial cartography of OrbiSat that can produce carts covering 250,000 square km in two months.  Brazil and Venezuela have opened a trans-Amazonian route from Manaus to Caracas; and gas pipeline through the Amazon Forest to Bolivia.

There are 12 trans-oceanic routes or corridor under consideration with a budget of $50 billions in a 10-year plan by Mercosur (economic union of the South American States).  These corridors are meant to “vanquish barriers of physical, normative, and social natures”

rmative, and social natures”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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