As a kid, whenever my teacher or my parents used to ask me to draw a random painting, triangles would always be a part of it.
What’s that triangle? It would signify mountains ⛰️. If I was in the mood, a circle would come at the top. Yes, that was the sun. 🌞
As the years went by and fortunately I got opportunities to visit mountain areas, my affection for them grew stronger. Hailing from plains, the mountains always evoked a sense of magnificence for me, and human insignificance in front of them.
Mountains cover 22 percent of the planet’s land surface. The Andes in South America, the Rocky Mountains in North America, Himalayas & Karokaram in South Asia, Great Escarpment in Southern Africa are some of the biggest mountainous regions in the world.
Along with other mountainous regions of the world, mountains provide habitats for around 1 billion humans.
That’s a lot of people.
The importance of mountains in our everyday lives is truly magnificent, from supporting humans & biodiversity to providing freshwater & moderating climate. Here is a quick look at the importance of mountains and the role they play in our daily lives.
Treasure Trove of Biodiversity
Mountains are a treasure trove of so many nature’s gifts – flora & fauna, fruits & vegetables, herbs & medicinal plants, animals & insects and it just goes on.
As per the Biodiversity information system, mountains support 25% of the terrestrial biological diversity. Moreover, mountains are the origin of the 6 of the 20 important food that comes to our tables, such as potatoes, apples, tomatoes, and barley.
Moderate the Weather Patterns
We would have all studied in our geography lessons about the role mountains play in weather cycles.
Mountains act as barriers to high magnitude winds, forcing them to change direction, do climatic moderation, and cause wet and dry conditions.
Water Tower of the World
Ganga, Brahmaputra, Indus, Rhine, Nile, and Yangtze, and most of the major rivers of the world have their source in the mountains. It is no surprise that the major civilizations originated along these rivers.
Through their watershed function, mountains provide 60-80% of the world’s freshwater. Hence Mountains are popularly known as the world’s “water towers” that distribute the water through rivers for drinking, irrigation & industrial purposes.
A paradise for the Wanderlust
Naturalist and environmentalist John Muir once said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
There are innumerable reasons, why mountains call – the topography, green or white slopes, pleasantness in weather, and scenic setting are a few of them.
Rock climbing, skiing, mountaineering, hiking, biking plus those instragammable pictures, make mountains an attractive tourist destination. Mountains also provide rich cultural diversity and a place to indulge in spirituality & yoga.
Mountain destinations attract around 15-20% of global tourism.
Mountains are a platform for Green Energy
Mountain areas provide a conducive high ground for renewable energy installations like wind, hydroelectric, solar, and biomass.
Hydropower energy is generated using moving water, which is usually at its best in the hilly terrain. Hence it is no surprise that the majority of hydropower projects are in the mountain regions of the world.
Against the common belief that mountains are not the best place for solar energy, research done in the Alps, Switzerland provides that solar can produce more energy in winters than summers. Many other countries that have done solar installations in the mountain regions are reaping favorable outcomes.
Similarly, the wind power which was largely untapped in the mountains is finally climbing to the hills to harness the high wind speeds.
To create awareness about the importance of mountains, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly selected 11 December as “International Mountain Day”.
Below is a high-level (10000 feet) view of the importance of the mountains.