Disasters, Development, and Glacial Lake Control in Twentieth-Century Peru

  • Mark Carey

During the past 65 years, glacier melting in Peru's Cordillera Blanca mountain range has caused some of the world's most deadly glacial lake outburst floods and glacier avalanches. Since the onset of these catastrophes in 1941, various groups have understood glacier hazards in distinct ways. Scientists and engineers saw them as technical problems. Economic developers and government officials believed glacier hazards threatened vital hydroelectric, irrigation, and tourism projects. And local residents feared glaciers and glacial lakes, though they ranked natural disasters among other social, political, and economic risks. Despite these marked differences in defining glacier hazards, local residents, authorities, developers, and scientific experts generally sought the same solution to Cordillera Blanca glacier disasters: draining glacial lakes to avoid outburst floods. Thus, risk perception varied, but each group proposed similar strategies to prevent glacier disasters. This chapter also suggests that development interests can help reduce the risk of natural disasters for local people and that local, marginalized populations can influence their degree of vulnerability to natural disasters.

Keywords

glacier retreat natural disasters history risk Cordillera Blanca 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Carey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryWashington and Lee UniversityUSA

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