The Story of Vanishing Water Towers

Mark Carey

in In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195396065
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199775682 | DOI:
 						The Story of Vanishing Water Towers

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Concerns about declining water supplies from glaciers have become a critical concern with global warming, especially in the Andes where large desert cities rely on glacier runoff for water. In the Cordillera Blanca, various discourses about shrinking glaciers and dwindling water supplies emerged after the 1960s, when the state hydroelectric company—first the Peruvian Santa Corporation and then Electroperú—took over disaster prevention programs and began conducting glacier research. Discourse analysis of environmental narratives shows that by the 1980s and early 1990s, the economic (water use) emphasis of these evolving glacier narratives had helped turn retreating glaciers into vanishing water towers, which facilitated company control of Andean water management. Yet glacier hazards persisted during that same period. The "glaciers as vanishing water towers" narrative, however, helped transform glaciers from natural hazards to natural resources. Analyzing glacier science and discourse illuminates the relationship between environmental discourse and management.

Keywords: Electroperú; discourse analysis; environmental narratives; glacier narratives; glacier runoff; glacier science; Peruvian Santa Corporation; water management

Chapter.  7635 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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