Reportedly, China has begun its cleanup process to help protect the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest. Further, China is planning to force strict limits on the number of climbers allowed to climb Mount Everest, restricting it to 300 for the whole year and limiting mountaineering to the spring season.
According to the United Nations’ Environment Program (UNEP), more than 140 tons of trash - including oxygen bottles, equipment, and canned food - have been left on the mountain unattended since climbers first explored it in the 1950s.
The cleaning process won't be easy as experts suggest that it would take at least a decade to clear mount Everest of all its rubbish, most of which can only be carried by a limited number of people. About 60,000 climbers, guides and tourists reportedly visit the Everest region between Nepal and Tibet each year. While most climbers prefer the more popular southern slope, climbing companies have been increasingly recommending the northern route - from the Tibetan side of China - in recent years because of the risk of ice slides on the Nepalese side.
It has also led to increased pressure on China to deal with the mountain's waste. In addition to cleaning up the debris, some of the victims are sleeping in what is known as the "dead zone" above 8,000 meters on Mount Everest because the air is too thin to sustain them in the long term.
The cleanup team was also tasked with bringing their bodies down the mountain. Japan has reported that a 30-member Chinese team removed 8.5 tons of garbage from Mount Everest in two months last year, including about 5.2 tons of household waste, 2.3 tons of human waste and 1 ton of mountaineering waste.
At the same time, China has set up garbage disposal stations to classify, recycle and decompose all garbage collected. For cleanup crews, the task is almost as difficult as climbing the Everest itself, as hand-picking litter at high altitudes increases oxygen consumption. They accumulate for years and are difficult to break down, which is why China also plans to build environmentally friendly toilets on Mount Everest.
In the documentary "The Scavenger of Everest", the cleaning team risking their lives and "marching forward with heavy loads" on the snow slope has touched countless netizens. In addition, nearly 12 tons of human waste is left on the mountain every year because the former base camp had no toilets at an altitude of 5,300 meters or more.
Since 2015, local officials have started handing out two trash bags to each climber to recycle at least 8 kilograms of trash, with rewards of US$100 for every kilogram collected.
We hope that in challenging the limits of human beings both physically and for environmental purposes, the holy Everest will remain the world's cleanest peak. We should also feel grateful to those who risk their lives in the snow to clean up any trash left behind.
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