By: Andrea Kobeszko
"We don't have any more time."*
Edson Ramirez, a world renowned glaciologist, offered this grim statement on the demise
of Bolivia's Chacaltaya glacier during a recent New York Times interview. The 17,500-
year-old glacier, once the highest ski resort in the world, officially vanished earlier this
year. Millions of Bolivians obtain as much as 80 percent of their drinking water from
glacial runoff. Now water-starved families throughout the country are struggling to
survive. Most scientists agree that global warming is the catalyst for the glacial
meltdown epidemic. The 2008 World Bank report estimated that climate change would
destroy many of the Andes glaciers within the next twenty years, threatening nearly one
hundred million lives.
Glacial evaporation is yet another in a deadly wave of weather events to strike Bolivia
over the past few years, including soaring temperatures, droughts, storms and mudslides.
Scientists believe that unless swift action is taken, Bolivia could be the first large urban
country to succumb to climate change.
"Understanding global warming is key to forecasting and preparing for these kinds of
weather events," states Rick Crouthamel, executive director of IEDRO, the nonprofit,
International Environmental Rescue Organization. "By salvaging environmental data in
countries like Bolivia, and making it available to researchers, we can greatly expand our
ability to predict the impact of global warming and take preventative measures."
Bolivia has been a loud voice at the international climate accord in Copenhagen. Their
pleas for funding and resources resonated among other third world countries in
"Bolivia's plight is in not an isolated incident," Rick Crouthamel adds. "Our
environment is clearly changing, and the human population is struggling to cope. Action
must be taken, and it must be taken now."
Edson Ramirez may have said it best. We don't have any more time.
*To see the full New York Times video, click here:
To learn more about IEDRO, click here: www.iedro.org