|Photos of glaciers in the Andes, taken in 1999 and 2009 from left to right, show melting faster than many scientists predicted.|
Glacier melt hasn’t caused a national crisis in Peru, yet. But high in the Andes, rising temperatures and changes in water supply over the last 40 years have decimated crops, killed fish stocks and forced villages to question how they will survive for another generation.
Without international help to build reservoirs and dams and improve irrigation, the South American nation could become a case study in how climate change can destabilize a strategically important region, according to Peruvian, U.S. and other officials.
Peru is home to 70 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers, which are also found in Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. Peru’s 18 mountain glaciers, including the world’s largest tropical ice mass, are critical to the region’s water sources for drinking, irrigation and electricity.
If Peru and its allies don’t fund and create projects to conserve water, improve decrepit water infrastructure and regulate runoff from glaciers within five years, the disappearance of Andean glaciers could lead to social and economic disaster, said Alberto Hart, climate change adviser at Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"The United States spent $30 million on climate change assistance in Peru in fiscal year 2010, according to documents provided by the State Department. The funding, allocated as part of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, went mostly to preserving the Amazon Rainforest in Peru.
The Peruvian government is asking Washington and other allies for at least $350 million every year through 2030 to build reservoirs and dams, and improve irrigation, said Hart to the Peruvian Times.