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Nobel Laureate Al Gore has warned that black carbon emissions from the kerosene powered lamps and stoves of the subcontinent will adversely impact the great rivers that are the lifeblood of India’s agrarian economy.

Keynoting the gala Lighting a Billion Lives reception and dinner in New York recently, the former vice president said, “One of the scientific realities that has become ever more clear, partly as a consequence of the work of the eminent Indian-American scientist Dr V Ramanathan (of the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography) is that the so-called black carbon, which is different from the other global warming pollutants, is probably the third largest cause of global warming.”

Gore pointed out that black carbon emissions from the subcontinent settle on the ice and snow in the Himalayas, in the foothills and on the Tibetan plateau.

By darkening the surface of all that ice and snow, the emissions cause more of the sun’s heat to be absorbed by the ice and snow, tremendously accelerating the melting process.