I wish I am wrong when I predict that it won’t snow this winter in Thimphu.
My five-year old son loves the flakes. Whenever he refuses to wake up early these days, I tell him that it has snowed. He jumps out, slides the curtain open only to be utterly disappointed.
I wish I am wrong because he should not think his father is a liar.
I also don’t want to attract the ire of civil servants who are eagerly waiting for the clouds to be pregnant with the flakes to enjoy a cozy holiday with their family members around the bukhari with a warm cup of suja. I don’t know how and when Thimphu decided to declare the first snowfall as a government holiday in the valley. Nobody seems to know it.
And nobody cares as long as the rule doesn’t change.
The past week, the Christian Community in Thimphu celebrated Christmas without the flakes. White Christmas has now become rarer not only in Thimphu but across the world.
In 2000, the Independent quoted a senior scientist, Dr David Viner, of the University of East Anglia in the UK saying that within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event.”
I think no five-year old kid should know this.
The same trend has been noted in many other countries. An ABC report says that warmer temperatures in northeast US region have reduced the average number of snow days by about 26% during the period of November 25 to December 24.
The report also quotes meteorologist Dale Kaiser, who studied the trend of fewer days of snowfall since 1948, saying, “We found significant decreasing trends in the number of snow days.” He adds, “Sometimes, it’s like they turned off the spigot.”
While no similar scientific study has been done in Bhutan, it is for everyone to see. Snow has indeed become a rarity.
Just about a decade ago, it was almost always a white Thimphu with snowmen, of all possible shapes and sizes, welcome the New Year. I think Business Bhutan should write an obituary of those wonderful days. (The newspaper has a dedicated space called Obituary where it features things, trends, and practices of the past or those out of fashion.)
These glaring realities are also quite disturbing for Bhutan particularly because it has hardly ever contributed anything to the global phenomenal jargon being described as climate change.
Christmas is the only time when parents are allowed to lie to their children and weave the Christmas dreams around Santa Claus, a folkloric figure. Maybe it’s a white lie.
But if Thimphu is indeed not getting its fair share of the white flakes because of climate change, then I am lost of words to explain to my son that he cannot blame me for lying to him almost every day.