Though not traditionally thought of as key natural resource, glaciers are a crucial part of both our global ecosystem and the sustaining of life around the world. Comprising three quarters of the worlds fresh water, they freeze in the winter and melt in the summer, supplying water that is plentiful enough for agriculture and clean enough to drink. Without them, many of the planets rivers would run dry shortly after the winter snow-melt. In fact, a single mid-sized glacier in regions like California, Argentina, India, Kyrgyzstan, or Chile can provide an entire community with drinking water for generations. On the other hand, when global temperatures rise not only does glacier ice wither away into the oceans, but these massive ice bodies can become unstable and cause severe natural events like glacier tsunamis.
But glaciers often exist well outside our environmental consciousness, and they are mostly unprotected from atmospheric impacts from transportation emissions, or from industrial threats such as the mining industry, which seeks the precious metals that lie beneath them.
Glaciers: The Politics of Ice is a scientific, cultural, and political examination of the cryospherethe earths iceand the environmental policies that aim to protect it. Jorge Daniel Taillant discusses the debates and negotiations behind the passing of the worlds first glacier-protection law in the mid-2000s, and reveals the tension between the industry experts, politicians, and glacier conservationists. The book provides the basic environmental science behind glaciers, outlines current and future risks to their preservation, and reveals the intriguing politics behind the debate over glacier policies and laws. Taillant also makes suggestions on what can be done to preserve these crucial sources of fresh water, from both a scientific and policymaking standpoint.