Event Title

Climate change impacts & geographies: comparing water scarcities in Utah and the Andean Highlands

Presenter Information

Logan Christian
Scott Schoessow

Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

http://water.usu.edu

Start Date

4-6-2016 10:45 AM

End Date

4-6-2016 11:00 AM

Description

Glacial mass and snow-pack levels are declining sharply around the globe, posing a direct threat to the local populations which have traditionally depended upon these vital water sources. Here in the US, we have many social systems in place that help mitigate the risks associated with dwindling water resources. Such a safety net does not exist in the Andean highlands of South America, where indigenous populations rely heavily on natural cycles of glacial melt water to sustain their religious, cultural, socioeconomic and agriculture systems. In this region, many communities revere the white-caps of glaciated mountains and still consider water to be the blood of their gods.Tragically, these indigenous cultures, who over millennia have worked to develop their unique cultural landscapes and have minimally contributed to global carbon emissions, are being disproportionately affected by anthropogenic global warming. All too often, the most vulnerable communities are uprooted and forced to migrate to urban areas where these peoples become trapped in cycles of extreme poverty and an unfamiliar way of life. The life blood of these communities is being lost due to forces they have no control over - jeopardizing lives, livelihoods, and unique cultural identities. In stark contrast, the value of water in Utah is often trivialized and development goals advance unsustainable agendas. The second driest state in the nation has thus-far failed to consume water in a manner that truly reflects its scarcity. In order to mitigate the physical and social risks of evolving water geographies, Utahns need to more proactively consider the local and global consequences of our actions and inactions. These interconnected system-problems highlight the need for indigenous and local stakeholder voices to be more fully considered during the development and implementation of robust water policies. Sustainable solutions drawing upon historical lessons and geographic perspectives are essential to protecting remaining water supplies for generations to come, across the Americas and the world.

Comments

An oral presentation by Logan Christian, who is with Utah State University, Environment and Society

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Apr 6th, 10:45 AM Apr 6th, 11:00 AM

Climate change impacts & geographies: comparing water scarcities in Utah and the Andean Highlands

USU Eccles Conference Center

Glacial mass and snow-pack levels are declining sharply around the globe, posing a direct threat to the local populations which have traditionally depended upon these vital water sources. Here in the US, we have many social systems in place that help mitigate the risks associated with dwindling water resources. Such a safety net does not exist in the Andean highlands of South America, where indigenous populations rely heavily on natural cycles of glacial melt water to sustain their religious, cultural, socioeconomic and agriculture systems. In this region, many communities revere the white-caps of glaciated mountains and still consider water to be the blood of their gods.Tragically, these indigenous cultures, who over millennia have worked to develop their unique cultural landscapes and have minimally contributed to global carbon emissions, are being disproportionately affected by anthropogenic global warming. All too often, the most vulnerable communities are uprooted and forced to migrate to urban areas where these peoples become trapped in cycles of extreme poverty and an unfamiliar way of life. The life blood of these communities is being lost due to forces they have no control over - jeopardizing lives, livelihoods, and unique cultural identities. In stark contrast, the value of water in Utah is often trivialized and development goals advance unsustainable agendas. The second driest state in the nation has thus-far failed to consume water in a manner that truly reflects its scarcity. In order to mitigate the physical and social risks of evolving water geographies, Utahns need to more proactively consider the local and global consequences of our actions and inactions. These interconnected system-problems highlight the need for indigenous and local stakeholder voices to be more fully considered during the development and implementation of robust water policies. Sustainable solutions drawing upon historical lessons and geographic perspectives are essential to protecting remaining water supplies for generations to come, across the Americas and the world.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/runoff/2016/2016Abstracts/7