Ritual dancer, Qoyllur Rit'i, dept. of Cusco, Peru  June 2008 / photo c. Jorge Vera for Clima y Cultura 2008
Ritual dancer, Qoyllur Rit’i, dept. of Cusco, Peru June 2008 / photo c. Jorge Vera for Clima y Cultura 2008

Clima y Cultura’s media production goals for 2009-2010 delivered in-depth coverage of Peru’s rapid glacier recession and the looming national water resource crisis.

Peru depends on glacial melt-off for 70% of its water needs for personal use, farming and electricity generation. Water constitutes one of the most important resources for households in the region for human consumption as well as agro-pastoral activities.

In 2010, Clima y Cultura co-produced the forty-two minute documentary for ARTE Television,  France, “Lima : quand l’eau est un luxe” (“Lima: when when water is a luxury”).

In 2009,  Clima y Cultura did research and production for NBC Nightly News Brian Williams, and Anne Thompson, Chief Environmental Correspondent, for the prime-time special report titled,   “A Perfect Storm – Climate Change and Conflict in Peru.”

A Perfect Storm aired the week of November 7, 2009, to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen.  The same week of the Summit NBC also aired , “Peru’s Future Depends on Mountains” , and  the picture story by our Executive Director titled, “Peru’s Disappearing Holy Glacier.”  

Water delivery truck in a desert communty in Lima. June 2010/photo c. Jorge Vera for Clima y Cultura 2010

As always our research and media production efforts were generously supported by private, corporate and in-kind contributions. 

We thank NBC Nightly News, MSNBC New York, and ARTE Television, Strasbourg. 

A very special thanks to Mic Greyer with Hasselblad America for supporting our photo documentary team with the use of the CFV-II digital gear, which was instrumental for our documentation of glacial recession and indigenous rituals at the 2009 Cordillera Vilcanota, Qoyllur Rit’i glacier sites.

This was the first time that the CFV-II digital technologywas tested at over 15,000 feet above sea level, in sub-zero conditions. (See photo below.)

Photo c. Jorge Vera for Clima y Cultura 2009

Please visit this link to view images from the 2009 research expedition, taken by Jorge Vera.

At the onset Clima y Cultura identified the southern Andes as a key area of research through first-hand visits to Peru’s glaciers in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Program director Barbara Drake identified areas of research through correspondence with anthropologist/author Inge Bolin, meetings with representatives from Soluciones Practicas in Lima, interviews with Andean scholar Jorge Flores Ochoa and Ohio State glaciologist Lonnie Thompson (2006, 2008) and climate-change expert Raymond Bradley (2008). In addition, Drake spent six months researching the subjects of Andean culture, rituals and religion at the University of Florida Smathers’ Library, Latin American Collection, in 2006-07.

The Cordillera Blanca came to Clima y Cultura’s attention in July 2009 when Drake and Vera were invited to travel to Huaraz as participants in the Adapting to a World without Glaciers conference, organized The Mountain Institute and USAID. Comparatively little is known about indigenous rituals in this part of Peru, which has lured fewer anthropologists to its peaks than has southern Peru.

Since 1995, natural pre-established agricultural and harvesting models have changed in Perú, and continue to do so at an alarming rate, affecting the very fabric of society and the life’s of thousands of people across hundreds of communities.

Even less is known about the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples of the Amazon, which makes it a key area of focus given the centrality of the Amazon as “the lungs of the planet.” About 20% of earth’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest.

Twenty eight billion gallons of water flow from the Amazon into the Atlantic every minute, diluting the salinity of the ocean for more than 100 miles offshore. The Amazon rainforest watershed is home to the world’s highest level of biodiversity.

Most of the Amazon River’s water comes from the annual snowmelt generated high in the Peruvian Andes. Between June and October, the water level rises by 30 to 45 feet. Tens of millions of acres of rainforest are covered by water as the flood advances, reaching as far inland from the main channel as 12 miles, literally feeding life into this vast region of Perú.

Yet, this little understood and often-contested region is besieged by competing mining, oil-gas exploration, and logging interests. The Amazon is the place where the final chapter of either, the success or failure to climate change adaptation will be written for humanity.

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