La Paz, Bolivia depends on glacial melt for its freshwater supply. But climate change is causing the Andean glaciers to disappear, leaving residents without a vital resource. (© Conservation International/photo by John Martin)
Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In this occasional series, Human Nature shares three recent stories of interest in our world.
- La Paz adapts to a world without water
The story: La Paz, Bolivia, is feeling the heat of climate change. Situated in the “high tropics” zone, La Paz relies on two main sources for its water: nearby glaciers and seasonal rains that replenish the city’s reservoirs. The glaciers have all but dried up, and the rains aren’t coming, prompting the government to suddenly cut water to about half of its 800,000 residents last October.
As Popular Science reports, the situation in La Paz likely could have been prevented: “For years, scientists predicted that climate change would cause a devastating water shortage in the Andean plain.” NGOs pleaded for better water management strategies while an important lake dried up and winter rains decreased by 25 percent. Yet when a local professor warned the government in 2005, no action was taken.
What’s next: La Paz’s waterless future may already be set: “[B]ecause of Bolivia’s location and elevation, the Andean nation is experiencing the impact of … [its] carbon emissions at a far more accelerated pace than the U.S.” the professor, Edson Ramirez, said.
Read more here.
- Drought and climate change are forcing young Guatemalans to flee to the U.S.
The story: Guatemalan coffee farmers in the country’s “dry corridor” are facing a significant problem: They can’t grow coffee. Between severe drought and a destructive, fast-spreading fungus called coffee rust, this area’s coffee farms are dry, brown and brittle, and they’re producing few beans. The culprit? Climate change. A 2016 report commissioned by the Climate