Selfie insanity has now reached its peak — at the top of Mount Everest, with The New York Times reporting earlier this week that climbers are now “pushing and shoving” to get perfect shot from the flattest part of the summit, after waiting hours jammed in an overcrowded line on an icy, rocky ridge with a several-thousand-foot drop on either side.  The image above says it all.  So far, 11 people have died summiting Everest this year, and some of these deaths were preventable, according to The Times.

Why This Matters:  We are loving our precious natural wonders to death.  And it’s killing us humans too.  The problem lies with too many inexperienced climbers making the trek, and the Nepalese government granting too many permits (381 this year) in order to increase its tourism revenues.  And many people become obsessed — according to The Times, “[c]limbers themselves, experienced or not, are often so driven to finish their quest that they may keep going even if they see the dangers escalating.”  Low-cost operators now will take nearly anyone to the top.  Places like the top of Everest should be conserved both for future generations and for the safety of all involved in reaching the summit.

In a fragile environment like the one at the top of Everest, there are bound to be negative impacts from so many climbers.

  • There are safety problems caused by thefts and trash left in heaps along the trail.
  • Earlier this year, government investigators found “profound problems with some of the oxygen systems used by climbers” — they were leaking, exploding or being improperly filled on a black market.
  • Permit numbers keep increasing each year leading to this year’s traffic jams, which were heavier than ever, according to the Nepalese government, because there were fewer good weather days in which to reach the summit.
  • The summit of Mount Everest, according to CNN, is 29,029 feet high, and at that elevation, every breath taken by a climber contains only one-third of the oxygen found at sea level.

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