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Published on : Thursday, November 14, 2013
In recent years, global climate change has decimated the size of the glacier, melting it to half its size in the last 20 years to about a third of a square mile. Where mounds of thick ice once stood are heaps of hard rock and Peruvian officials have banned ice climbing due to the glacier’s instability.
Peru’s Pastoruri Glacier, has been a popular destination for skiers, ice climbers and tourists for decades. As the Pastoruri is expected to vanish in the next decade, locals are rushing to capitalize on its last days by promoting, instead of fighting climate change. Peruvians have rebranded the glacier as a place to watch climate change in real time.
Besides the calamitous environmental impact, the shrinking glacier has also seen shrinkage in tourist visits – down from 100,000 tourists in the 1990s to only 34,000 in 2012.The “climate change route” is Peru’s answer to the loss of the Andean glaciers, which have been reduced by between 30 and 50 since 1970s, according to Antoine Rabatel, researcher at the Laboratory for Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics in Grenoble, France. The move to turn the collapsing glacier into a new tourist destination comes after a variety of attempts to slow the melt, including coating the surface of the glacier in 15 cm thick sawdust, which managed to save about five meters of the glacier when applied.
However, Experts claim that these efforts won’t help bring back the retreating glacier, as a combination of the end to the so-called Little Ice Age around 1850 and an increased CO2 in the atmosphere among other factors has led to a warming of the planet.Tourism is a huge market in Peru – from hikers visiting Machu Picchu to foodies sampling Lima’s new gastronomic wonders – and locals are hoping that the new campaign will draw more interest to the area. However, to some people, the idea of visiting a vanishing glacier has been met with icy skepticism.