19 March 2010

Requiem for a Glacier — Bolivia’s Chacaltaya is Gone

We've been learning a lot about Bolivia lately, because of President Evo Morales' leadership at the Copenhagen climate summit and because of their upcoming People's Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth's Rights (see http://pwccc.wordpress.com/).

That's how we discovered that the Kogi people, who issued a warning to Little Brother 20 years ago about changes happening in the Andes, were right. With no fanfare in the North American media when it happened about a year ago, the world's highest ski resort lost its glacier.

James Painter of BBC News reported on 12 May 2009 that the World Bank had warned that "many of the Andes' tropical glaciers will disappear within 20 years," both threatening the water supplies of almost 80 million people and jeopardizing the future generation of hydroelectricity (a climate change-friendly form of energy). Painter pointed out that "Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru depend on that power for about half their electricity."

The Bolivian people are responsible for 0.03% of greenhouse gas emissions. Isn't it staggeringly unjust that they have to pay such a high price for the climate change mess that we developed countries have created through our industrialization?

Yale Environment 360 also wrote about this sad loss. My heart goes out to the people in La Paz and other Bolivian cities and regions who are losing their main source of drinking water, one that has been around for 18,000 years.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?