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Robin Jones

Ghost of the Mountains

Oil, gold leaf, and platinum leaf on aluminum panel, Image: 24"h x 36"w, Framed: 31.5"h x 43"w, Item No. 20675,

The young girl is Tibetan and she is with a Snow Leopard and surrounded by the Snow Lotus and Mount Everest.

Tibet is one of the front lines of the global climate crisis: it’s warming three times faster than the rest of the earth. Known as the Earth’s Third Pole, Tibet holds the largest store of fresh water outside the Arctics, providing water for one fifth of the global population. Like the Arctic, Tibet is experiencing profound climate change impacts. China’s hydro-damming and mineral extraction in Tibet, combined with climate change, threaten to destroy Tibet’s unique ecosystems. In the climate crisis eight billion tons of ice in Tibet are being lost every year as Tibet is in a meltdown. Only drastic action will stop at least two - thirds of Himalayan glaciers from being lost.

Snow leopards are so rare that many of the researchers who have studied them for decades have never even seen one in the flesh. These big cats may leave scat or even the occasional tuft of fur in a hair snare, but their passage is often ghostly — so much, in fact, that photographers are only just now capturing many aspects of their lives. In many areas, snow leopards still face conservation threats due to mining development, livestock herding and persecution from locals in their range. Despite their elusive nature, however, the charismatic snow leopard is rebounding in numbers in regions like the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau — a vast area covering parts of southwestern China and bordering countries. This is in part due to the work of local communities to improve education and tolerance.

The snow lotus, the only herbaceous plant living above 3,500 meters, is facing extinction as a result of global warming and rising demand for the plant from pharmacy and health products industries.