Chapter

Introduction

Mark Carey

in In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195396065
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199775682 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195396065.003.0001
Introduction

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This chapter introduces the subject of Peruvian responses to climate change and ensuing glacier catastrophes from 1941 to the present. In Peru's Cordillera Blanca mountain range, which towers above the Callejón de Huaylas valley in the Ancash Department, 25,000 people have died from glacier-related disasters (glacial lake outburst floods and avalanches). The chapter places this study within current historiography on climate history, the history of science and technology, environmental history, Peruvian history, Latin American history, disaster studies, and glacier-society relations both globally and in the Andean region. The chapter then demonstrates why glacier retreat in Peru's Cordillera Blanca mountain range is an ideal case study for understanding long-term human adaptation to climate change, as well as analyzing how science evolves in societal context following climate change and natural disasters. Responses to climate change, which brought scientists and engineers to the Cordillera Blanca, unleashed a process called disaster economics: the use of catastrophes or disaster mitigation programs to promote and empower a range of economic development interests in both the public and private sectors. Climate change triggered historical processes and scientific developments far beyond the immediate disasters caused by melting glaciers.

Keywords: environment; Latin American studies; history of science; disasters; Peru; Cordillera Blanca; Callejón de Huaylas; Ancash; glacier retreat; disaster economics; Andes

Chapter.  6756 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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