California isn’t the only major region afflicted by a devastating and ongoing drought.
Bolivia, a nation with far less financial resources than the Golden State, is being hit even harder, with glaciers that once provided the major water source for one of its largest cities now rapidly vanishing.
The three main dams that supply La Paz and El Alto are no longer fed by runoff from glaciers and have almost run dry. Water rationing has been introduced in La Paz, and the poor of El Alto—where many are not yet even connected to the mains water supply—have staged protests.
The armed forces are being brought in to distribute water to the cities, emergency wells are being drilled and schools will have to close two weeks ahead of the summer break
President Evo Morales sacked the head of the water company for not warning him earlier of the dangerous situation, but the changes produced by global warming have been evident for some time.
A recent report by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) says:
“Temperatures in the region have risen by 0.5°C in the period 1976 to 2006, and the people of La Paz and El Alto can observe evidence of climate change in the form of the shrinking snowline in the mountains above them.
“One glacier on Chacaltaya mountain—which rises above El Alto and which once hosted the world’s highest ski resort—has already completely disappeared. And the two Tuni-Condoriri glaciers that provide water for El Alto and La Paz lost 39 percent of their area between 1983 and 2006—at a rate of 0.24 sq km per year.”