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Water and Ice in the Andes: A Century of Climate Change, Glacier Disasters, and Hydro-Social Conflicts

Thursday, February 3, 2011
12:00 AM
U-M Exhibit Museum of Natural History | 1109 Geddes Avenue | Ann Arbor

In the Peruvian Andes, climate change has triggered a series of glacier catastrophes and generated divisive conflicts over water supplies. The floods and avalanches unleashed by shrinking glaciers have been extreme in Peru, but they represent similar processes occurring in mountain ranges worldwide -- from the Andes and Alps to the Rockies and Himalaya. Along with this occasional deadly abundance of water and ice, there are also growing conflicts over water shortages, which have pitted local Peruvian communities against hydroelectric energy companies and large-scale irrigators. Solving these water struggles and adapting to climate change will ultimately depend on resolving social issues, such as power discrepancies, diverse cultural beliefs, race relations, and class divisions.

Mark Carey is an assistant professor of History in the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, where he teaches environmental history and the history of science.  His article, "The History of Ice: How Glaciers Became an Endangered Species," won the Leopold-Hidy Prize for the best article in the journal Environmental History in 2007.  In 2009, while an assistant professor at Washington and Lee University, he was awarded Virginia's "Rising Star" Outstanding Faculty Award, awarded to the most promising untenured faculty member in all departments and at all public and private colleges and universities in Virginia.  Ongoing interdisciplinary collaborative research on water and climate change in the Andes is currently supported by the National Science Foundation.  His book, In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society, was published in 2010 by Oxford University Press.

Presented by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS), the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, the School of Natural Resources and Environment, the Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History, and the LSA Theme Semester on Water.