Shrin­king gla­ciers cau­se sta­te-ofe­mer­g­en­cy in Bo­li­via

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

BO­LI­VIA - The govern­ment of Bo­li­via, a land­lock­ed coun­try in the he­art of South Ame­ri­ca, has been for­ced to de­cla­re a sta­te of emer­g­en­cy as it fa­ces its worst drought for at least 25 ye­ars.

Much of the wa­ter sup­ply to La Paz, the hig­hest ca­pi­tal ci­ty in the world, and the neigh­bou­ring El Al­to, Bo­li­via’s se­cond lar­gest ci­ty, co­mes from the gla­ciers in the sur­roun­ding An­dean moun­tains. But the gla­ciers are now shrin­king rapid­ly, il­lu­stra­ting how cli­ma­te chan­ge is al­rea­dy af­fec­ting one of the poor­est coun­tries in La­tin Ame­ri­ca. The three main dams that sup­ply La Paz and El Al­to are no lon­ger fed by runoff from gla­ciers and ha­ve al­most run dry. Wa­ter ra­ti­o­ning has been in­tro­du­ced in La Paz, and the poor of El Al­to – whe­re ma­ny are not yet even con­nec­ted to the mains wa­ter sup­ply – ha­ve sta­ged pro­tests. The ar­med for­ces are being brought in to dis­tri­bu­te wa­ter to the ci­ties, emer­g­en­cy wells are being dril­led, and schools will ha­ve to clo­se two weeks ahead of the sum­mer break.

Pre­si­dent Evo Mo­ra­les sack­ed the head of the wa­ter com­pa­ny for not warning him ear­lier of the dange­rous si­tu­a­ti­on, but the chan­ges pro­du­ced by glo­bal war­ming ha­ve been evi­dent for so­me ti­me. A re­cent re­port by the Stock­holm En­vi­ron­ment In­sti­tu­te (SEI) says: “Tem­pe­ra­tu­res in the re­gi­on ha­ve ri­sen by 0.5C (32.9F) in the pe­ri­od 1976 to 2006, and the pe­o­p­le of La Paz and El Al­to can ob­ser­ve evi­den­ce of cli­ma­te chan­ge in the form of the shrin­king snow­li­ne in the moun­tains abo­ve them.


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