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Meltdown in Tibet

Meltdown in Tibet

Meltdown in Tibet
China's Reckless Destruction of Ecosystems from the Highlands of Tibet to the Deltas of Asia

publication date: November 2014
hardcover, 256 pages with 8-page colour insert
published by Palgrave-Macmillan, New York

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ROUGH TIMES ahead for the Himalayan regions: climate change is radically altering the landscape, with glaciers melting and receding at an unprecedented rate. Which is, without a doubt, going to result in extreme weather and chaos with food production. Chinese authorities seem to have no contingency plans here. While logging has officially been banned in the Tibetan borderlands of southwest China, illegal logging continues, with corruption rife. Dam-builders are forging ahead with building of mega-dams in the upper Yangtse, Mekong and Salween regions.

For more about the fate of the mighty rivers of Tibet, go to:

For more about the fast-disappearing nomads of Tibet, go to:


Valleys of the dammed

Header photo: from the Three Parallel Rivers
UNESCO World Heritage site

Superb at rendering their own rivers unusable, Chinese engineers are moving on to fresh victims at the edge of the Tibetan plateau. The Salween—one of Asia's last wild rivers—is the target of a series of large-scale dams, planned to generate hydropower to distant Chinese cities. Impervious to international protest, Chinese engineers are conducting dam survey work in upper Yunnan within a UNESCO World Heritage area called Three Parallel Rivers (where the Salween, Mekong and Yangtse rivers runs close). It seems that the United Abominations is doing little to stop the dams, apart from raising a few eyebrows and muttering some stern rebukes.

Meltdown in Tibet

“Buckley renders an important service in this outspoken book by…[documenting] the calamitous consequences of China's unsparing usurpation of Tibet's natural resources…arriving at a time when many Western authors are acquiescing in censorship for the tawdry privilege of being published in China, Meltdown in Tibet is made indispensable by the mere fact of its existence.”
— The Washington Post

“An intrepid environmentalist and travel writer…Buckley provides in his latest book an impassioned and angry account of… [how] China has penetrated Tibet's ground waters, and its deep-lying minerals, and violated its mighty rivers and grasslands.”
— Jonathan Mirsky, High Peaks Pure Earth

“[Buckley] makes a compelling case that China's Tibet policies are noxious…Meltdown in Tibet is hard to put down as Buckley's passion and outrage swell, like the Mekong, from a trickle to a thunderous torrent at every twist and turn of his narrative.”
— South China Morning Post

Meltdown in Tibet is full of evidence of ethnocide and ecocide, brutal repression, human rights violations, wide corruption and profiteering at the highest levels…it is the huge dams that most worry Buckley. Widely travelled, with deep knowledge of terrain and peoples, he… neatly encapsulates the mainstream Chinese view by quoting a hydrologist who says such rivers are 'an awful waste of water leaving China.' …Highly readable.”
— NewScientist

Meltdown in Tibet is an instructive book on the roof of the world. Its documentation is impeccable, and it deals with Tibet seen from a rarely tackled angle: its role in world climate.”

“A passionately committed environmental activist unearths China's criminal, ongoing policy of resource extraction.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“The question of river and water management in Tibet transcends mere political concerns because of its far-reaching impact in this part of the world. This book, therefore, should be part of a wake-up call to the international community and China to seriously assess ecological and environmental conditions on the Tibetan plateau and take remedial measures before it is too late.”
— From the Preface by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Meltdown in Tibet draws attention to the critical importance of Tibet's environment to the sustainability of development of Asia and even to the survival of the continent's billions who live downstream. Buckley's argument is that Asia can ignore what China is doing in Tibet at its own peril.”
— Thupten Samphel, director of Tibet Policy Institute, and author of Falling Through the Roof

“In Meltdown in Tibet, Michael Buckley has bravely chronicled China's human rights abuses against Tibetans, forcibly removed from their lands to make way for large-scale mining and hydro power projects. Buckley, a Tibet expert, has traced the deleterious effects of controlled water distribution from the Tibetan plateau to the thirsty countries along its perimeter. It's a scary read. I am afraid. We should all be afraid.”
— Pat Morrow, mountaineer, author of Everest: High Expectations

“An engrossing look at the devastation wrought in Tibet by the Chinese government, and the cascading environmental problems that follow. Meltdown in Tibet is a primer on how quickly a country can go from a pristine state to an environmental horror story when outside forces disregard the value of a natural environment.”
— Lester R. Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute and author of Full Planet, Empty Plates

“I cannot praise this excellent book highly enough, a gripping and moving read, a lively chronicle of the author's adventures and journey of discovery, as well as a globally urgent expose of the disastrous exploitation inflicted by the Chinese government and its colonialist state corporations on the whole of the Tibetan plateau. The book reports in solid and yet expressive detail this genocidal ecocide and its devastating impact on the whole of Asia, including its suicidal effect on China itself. I read it through without being able to put it down, swept up in its epic scope. Though it moves one toward despair, the mere fact that such a horrific reality is so well confronted and communicated by the author gives rise to a saving hope, and a strong determination to do what one can to change such a natural and human catastrophe. One thing one can do is know what is going on, and this book shines a bright light upon the situation. If one cares about the present and future of this planet, this book is a must read!”
— Professor Robert Thurman, President of Tibet House US and author of Why The Dalai Lama Matters


This material © copyright Michael Buckley. All rights reserved.