Oxford University Press
On Sale: June 30, 2015
Hardcover / e-Book
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Non-Fiction Political | Non-Fiction
Though not traditionally thought of as strategic natural resources, glaciers are a crucial part of our global
ecosystem playing a fundamental role in the sustaining of life around the world. Comprising three quarters of
the world's freshwater, they freeze in the winter and melt in the summer, supplying a steady flow of water for
agriculture, livestock, industry and human consumption. The white of glacier surfaces reflect sunrays which
otherwise warm our planet. Without them, many of the planet's rivers would run dry shortly after the winter
snow-melt. A single mid-sized glacier in high mountain environments of places like California, Argentina,
India, Kyrgyzstan, or Chile can provide an entire community with a sustained flow of drinking water for
On the other hand, when global temperatures rise, not only does glacier ice wither away into the oceans and
cease to act as water reservoirs, but these massive ice bodies can become highly unstable and collapse into
downstream environments, resulting in severe natural events like glacier tsunamis and other deadly
environmental catastrophes. But despite their critical role in environmental sustainability, glaciers often exist
well outside our environmental consciousness, and they are mostly unprotected from atmospheric impacts of
global warming or from soot deriving from transportation emissions, or from certain types of industrial activity
such as mining, which has been shown to have devastating consequences for glacier survival.
GLACIERS: THE POLITICS OF ICE IS a scientific, cultural, and political examination of the cryosphere -- the
earth's ice -- and the environmental policies that are slowly emerging to protect it. Jorge Daniel Taillant
discusses the debates and negotiations behind the passage of the world's first glacier-protection law in the
mid-2000s, and reveals the tension that quickly arose between industry, politicians, and environmentalists
when an international mining company proposed dynamiting three glaciers to get at gold deposits underneath.
The book is a quest to educate general society about the basic science behind glaciers, outlines current and
future risks to their preservation, and reveals the intriguing politics behind glacier melting debates over
policies and laws to protect the resource. Taillant also makes suggestions on what can be done to preserve
these crucial sources of fresh water, from both a scientific and policymaking standpoint.
Glaciers is a new window into one of the earth's most crucial and yet most ignored natural resources, and a call
to reawaken our interest in the world's changing climate.
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