Nepal's once-pristine natural beauty has been ravaged by years of civil war, neglect, and corruption, the Washington Post reports. Dangerous levels of pollution now cloud Kathmandu, forcing many residents to wear masks. Even the top of Mount Everest is marred by litter left behind by generations of climbers, and many warn the government that the tourists vital to the country's economy will start staying away if it doesn't take action.
Analysts say that while Nepal's problems will be tough to fix, the country is still in post-civil war transition and environmentalists now have the chance to help reshape the nation. "The environment is a human right and tied deeply to everyday life," says one lawmaker fighting to add an environmental protection measure to the country's constitution. "It's literally the air you breathe."