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In the Shadow of Melting GlaciersClimate Change and Andean Society$
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Mark Carey

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195396065

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195396065.001.0001

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The Story of Vanishing Water Towers

The Story of Vanishing Water Towers

(p.147) 6 The Story of Vanishing Water Towers
In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers

Mark Carey (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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