Thieves join global warming in attack on iconic glacier
By Denis McClean
GENEVA, 2 February 2012 - Climate change was a key driver in 2005 when 168 UN member states agreed on an international blueprint for disaster risk reduction but there is no reference in the Hyogo Framework for Action* to the environmental threat posed to the world’s retreating glaciers by criminal gangs.
Police in Chile are now investigating a criminal gang implicated in the theft of 5,000 kilos of millennia-old ice from the 454-square-kilometer Jorge Montt glacier which is melting at a rate of a kilometer (0.6 miles) per year making it one of the world’s most iconic symbols of global warming.
Mining for ice could pose a major additional threat to the glacier which is situated in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park and is part of the 13,000 square kilometer Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest frozen land mass after Antarctica and Greenland.
Margareta Wahlström who heads the UN office for disaster risk reduction, UNISDR, said: “The authorities in Chile are to be congratulated on clamping down on this illegal activity. The Jorge Montt Glacier and other major ice-fields are a precious part of our common world heritage and important yardsticks by which we can measure how man-made global warming is threatening the world’s water supply and damaging the environment. They deserve all the protection we can give them including safeguarding from this type of vandalism.”
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