A Vicious Cycle

While climate change news largely directs our attention to the melting poles, the most immediate and devastating effects will be felt from the melting glaciers. From Bhutan to Peru, global warming is exacting a great toll now and will soon be getting much much worse. The article Melting Andean Glaciers Could Leave 30 Million High and Dry describes a sobering narrative with a killer ending:

Loss of glaciers in the Andes mountain range is threatening the water supply of 30 million people, and scientists say the lower altitude glaciers could disappear in 10 years.

What’s happening to those most closely tied to the glaciers?

His community can no longer can seed indigenous potatoes in fields located at lower levels, because sufficient water does not flow there any longer. “We must seed them to greater height. But every year that happens, also we have less earth in mountains, Felipe says. “In few years more, no longer we will have no place to seed these potatoes.”

Maybe they should move to the cities? But wait:

Large cities in the region depend on glacial runoffs for their water supply. Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, draws 50 percent of its water supply from the glacial basin, and Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, draws 30 percent of its water supply.

So you’re away from home and thirsty but at least you have cheap clean power, right? Don’t hold your breath.

Power supplies also will be affected as most countries in the Andes are dependent on hydroelectric power generation. Peru gets 81 percent of its electricity from hydropower, Colombia generates 73 percent from hydropower, Ecuador is 72 percent hydro-dependent, and Bolivia, 50 percent.

No water, no home, no power: there must be a way to adapt you say?

In any case, Peru will have to invest in additional power capacity, most likely based on burning fossil fuels, at a cost of about US$1 billion per gig watt installed, resulting in higher cost to end-users and another cycle of increased carbon emissions.

The World Bank and Global Environment Facility are supporting the development of adaptation plans prepared with the assistance of a multidisciplinary group that includes expertise in glaciology, remote sensing, agriculture, water and power supply, and rural development.

Adaptation as survival in pursuit of complete self destruction.


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3 Responses to “A Vicious Cycle”

  1. Playing with a hydrogen stockpile Says:

    […] arsenal include: Polar Ice Sheet Melt and Polar Amplification Deforestation Desertification Deglaciation Ocean Saturation Wetlands […]

  2. Amplifying Feedbacks – A Climate Change Arms Race « Checklist Toward Zero Carbon Says:

    […] arsenal include: Polar Ice Sheet Melt and Polar Amplification Deforestation Desertification Deglaciation Ocean Saturation Wetlands […]

  3. You Earth Says:

    Good read. thanks:)

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