Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Melting Glaciers Threaten South American Water Supply

The .glaciers of the Andean mountains are melting so fast that they could disappear in the next 15 to 25 years, taking with them a major source of fresh water for Colombia, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia.

The Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia has lost over 3,000 acres of ice, about 40% of the area it covered 30 years ago. The glacier is the source of fresh water for the cities of La Paz and El Alto. At it's present rate of melt, it will be gone in 15 years.

The president of Peru's water management institute notes that, in the short run, the faster rate of melt could cause overflows of reservoirs and trigger mudslides, while in the longer run it will cut off water supplies.

South American countries are not the major source of greenhouse gasses and can only urge richer countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Juan Maldonado, former Colombian environment minister and president of the UN convention on biological diversity comments that; "The only option we have, apart from demanding that developed countries take responsibility for the damages that climate change is causing, is to try to neutralise the adverse impacts that are [already] upon us. It is time to rethink the model of international aid."


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