Saving Argentina's Glaciers Macri Folds in the Face of Big Mining

By Bazak, Jordan | Washington Report on the Hemisphere, November 29, 2016 | Go to article overview

Saving Argentina's Glaciers Macri Folds in the Face of Big Mining


Bazak, Jordan, Washington Report on the Hemisphere


Route 7 in the province of Mendoza, Argentina is the road to the rooftop of South America. The twolane highway winds upwards from the town of Uspallata, following the path of the Mendoza River between the snow-capped ridges of the Andes Mountains. It passes the ski slopes of Los Penitentes and Puente del Inca, a splendid rock bridge dyed orange, yellow, and green by mineralrich waters. Further up the road are the remnants of the Trans-Andean railroad, in operation from 1910 to 1985, and, near the top, a clear view of La Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere.

Although the rugged Andes may feel a world apart from Argentina's vast flat interior, Las Pampas, or its sprawling capital of Buenos Aires, they are an integral part of country's ecology and economy. Alpine streams, like the Mendoza, provide drinking water, hydroelectricity, and irrigation for local communities. They also form the headwaters of the Salado and Parana Rivers near which much of the country's population resides. From Patagonia to Jujuy, the mountain range's unique beauty attracts travelers from around the world. Meanwhile, the wine, olive oil, and fruit grown in the dry valleys below stock the nation's cupboards. Beneath the peaks and glaciers lie vast reserves of natural resources-from oil and natural gas to copper and gold-whose extraction creates thousands of jobs and fills public coffers.

Balancing the Andes climatic and commercial functions is a difficult task for President Mauricio Macri. As he attempts to jumpstart Argentina's suffering economy, Macri has promoted foreign investment in the mining sector. Increased extractive activity, however, is inherently at odds with the region's environmental health, a fact that is made clear by the impact of gold mining on glaciers and nearby waterways.

Glorious Glaciers

Glaciers play a key role in the both Andean region's ecology and touristic appeal. By storing precipitation in the winter and releasing it gradually over the warmer months, these bodies of ice ensure the steady supply of water resources in a drought-prone ecosystem. The stunning Los Glaciares National Park, in the province of Santa Cruz, received over 614,000 visitors in 2015 alone.

Unfortunately, the lucrative mining sector poses a direct threat to glaciers and the rivers they feed. At their worst, mining companies remove, relocate, drive over, or drill holes in glaciers in order to reach precious metals. But, there are also a number of ways that mining can affect glaciers indirectly. For instance, when the dust created from blasting settles on ice it makes it darker and increases the rate of melting. Another side effect is increased levels of sediment in the water used by downstream farmers, which can clog irrigation lines and destroy crops. The intensive use of mining in aspects of mining further limits its availability for drinking, power, and agriculture. Finally, the use of chemical solutions to "leach" out valuable metals from worthless rock creates the potential for dangerous leaks and overflows, poisoning the surrounding environment.

In short, the negative consequences of mining on the cryosphere (glacial zone) are diverse and complex. Moreover, glaciers are already threatened from rising temperatures due to global climate change. Industry experts may claim that, through proper water management and rigorous environmental impact assessment, mining companies can insulate ice sheets and rivers from risk. However, as with any disruptive activity in a fragile ecosystem, it is impossible to prevent every accident or predict every unforeseen outcome of high-altitude mining.

This conclusion was a driving factor behind Argentina's 2010 Glacier Protection Law (Ley de Protección de Glaciares). Article 6 prohibits any activity that "could affect the natural condition or functioning of glaciers" and explicitly mentions mining and fossil fuel exploitation, not just on glaciers but also in the surrounding area. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Saving Argentina's Glaciers Macri Folds in the Face of Big Mining
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.