The mountains of the entire planet
are the honorees of their own "International Year"
in 2002. The United Nations has issued an appeal to
involve institutions and individuals around the world
in achieving a fundamental goal for the Earth's well-being:
the sustainable development of its mountainous zones.
of the International Year of Mountains states that
one of the key objectives is to incorporate these
ecosystems into the development programs of each country.
Another priority is to ensure the well-being of the
communities living in these high altitude regions.
The idea that the international
community needs to pay special attention to mountains
was proposed in 1992 at the UN-sponsored Earth Summit
in Rio de Janeiro. Coming out of that summit was Agenda
21, a broad plan for the world's sustainable development.
13 of that document is dedicated to mountainous
"Mountains are an important source
of water, energy and biological diversity. Furthermore,
they are a source of such key resources as minerals,
forest products and agricultural products and of recreation.
As a major ecosystem representing the complex and
interrelated ecology of our planet, mountain environments
are essential to the survival of the global ecosystem,"
says the text.
Approximately 10 percent of the
world population depends directly on mountains and
their resources for their livelihood, but a much larger
portion utilizes resources that originate in mountainous
areas, such as freshwater.
The Internet holds a great deal
of information about the importance of mountain ecosystems.
Some organizations specialize in promoting their conservation,
and others in disseminating
information about mountains from around the globe.
Year of Mountains
Year of Mountains: Concept Paper
Nations Environment Program/World Conservation Monitoring
Center: Mountains and Mountain Forests
21: Sustainable Mountain Development
of the World
Ice at Large
Icebergs are the frosty residents
of Earth's enormous oceans. These pieces of glaciers
float as they please and are the result of a fascinating
- and occasionally dangerous - natural phenomenon.
Perhaps the most famous incident
occurred in 1912 when the famed ship, the Titanic
- the "unsinkable" vessel built as a show
of human know-how - ran into an iceberg and sank.
The term "iceberg"
has become part of are daily speech as one often hears
the phrase: "the tip of the iceberg", which
refers to the fact that as much as seven-eighths of
the iceberg's mass is under water, leaving only a
small portion exposed.
The destructive power of these
colossal chunks of ice has prompted humans to set
up monitoring systems - such as satellite surveillance
- to prevent collisions.
Icebergs generally arise from
the "calving" of glaciers, in which a large
piece breaks off and is cast adrift in the oceans,
particularly in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
The largest iceberg was discovered
in March 2000. Dubbed B15, it measures nearly 300
km in length.
The Internet is home to numerous
websites featuring information and photos of icebergs.
Find out why these giants are comprised of freshwater
in spite of the fact that they are found floating
in the saltwater of the planet's oceans.
Ice Patrol (U.S. Coast Guard)
National Ice Center: Icebergs
Icebergs: current positions
Today: Info on Icebergs
Satellite views of icebergs
Icebergs of the Northern Hemisphere
The Biggest Iceberg
Fleeing for their Lives
A new war at the beginning of
the 21st century has brought attention to one of humanity's
chronic problems: the plight of refugees, people who
are forced to flee their homes in order to save their
The refugee crisis of Afghanistan
is considered by many to be among the most serious
in history. But the irony is that this and other similar
emergencies continue to occur in the middle of the
"digital era", at a time when there are
many places around the world that are the epitome
of modernity and "progress".
The office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
is the leader in actions taken to save refugees around
the world. According to the organization's estimates,
its efforts are serving more than 20 million people.
The main legal instrument that
benefits refugees is a Convention negotiated in Geneva
in 1951 and ratified by more than 140 nations. On
June 20, 2001, World Refugee Day was celebrated, marking
50 years since the document was drafted.
UNHCR says that refugee status
is the result of persecution arising from political
conflicts. But in today's world the matter is more
complex, as many people are fleeing hunger and drought,
which may be caused by war or by environmental problems.
The refugee crisis has been denounced
by numerous non-governmental organizations and has
established a place on the international agenda, but
there are still many people with horrific testimonies
of their own experiences in being forced to flee their
High Commissioner for Refugees
Crisis in Afghanistan