In the 1970s and 1980s many institutions, agencies, and scholars believed that the Himalayan region was facing imminent environmental disaster. They argued that rapid growth in population had caused extensive deforestation, which in turn had led to massive landsliding, soil erosion, and widespread flooding downstream in Gangetic India and Bangladesh. This series of assumptions was first challenged in the book: The Himalayan Dilemma (1989: Ives and Messerli, Routledge). Nevertheless, the environmental crisis paradigm still exerts considerable support and continues to be promoted by the news media.
Himalayan Perceptions discusses the evolving attitudes toward environmental change, the confusion of misunderstanding, vested interests, and institutional unwillingness to base development policy on sound scientific knowledge. It brings together and analyses the extensive amount of new research published since 1989 and totally refutes the entire construct of the environmental crisis paradigm. This is followed by examination of recent social and economic developments in the region and identifies widespread oppression of poor ethnic minorities, which leads to civil unrest, guerrilla activities, and warfare, as a primary cause for the instability that pervades the entire region. It is argued that the development controversy is further confounded by exaggerated reporting, even falsification, by news media, environmental publications, and agency reports alike. Highly illustrated with numerous photographs and detailed examples, Himalayan Perceptions will prove an invaluable resource for all those interested in the Himalayan region.