PaWC Explores Interdisciplinary Learning with Lecture by Johnathan Mingle
By Katie Sanders’13
This last Wednesday—October 26, 2016—the Peace in War Center, in collaboration with the Writer’s Series, hosted author and lecturer Johnathan Mingle. Mingle gave a presentation on his book entitled Fire and Ice: Soot, Solidarity and Survival on the Roof of the World which is a telling of his experiences in Zanskar, Kashmir and the stories of his friend, Urgain Dorjay.
Zanskar has one of the harshest climates in the world. Winters last about seven months and temperatures frequently drop to 30 and 40 degrees below zero. In such a harsh climate, heat and community are the major necessities for survival. Mingle explained how their way of life and need for fire and water are intertwined and heavily impacted by climate change. While some villages are privileged enough to have been given—by the government or various other organizations—means to heat their homes with clean-burning fuel, water, and electricity others have not been so fortunate and are forced to burn garbage or dried yak and sheep dung in order to survive. These are certainly not the best or cleanest means for fuel but their options are limited.
Soot, the main by-product of these unclean fuel sources, is the second biggest contributor to climate change and the people in Zanskar are feeling the repercussions the heaviest. With rivers shrinking, winters shortening, and glaciers disappearing water sources and wind breaks are becoming scarcer and making an already difficult environment impossible to live in and people are being forced to leave their homes. In addition to the environmental implications, there are also major health concerns for those having to breathe in the smoke from these “dirty” fuel sources. For more information and photos from Johnathan Mingle’s novel, Fire and Ice: Soot, Solidarity and Survival on the Roof of the World, please feel free to explore his website here.