Article

Defending Glaciers in Argentina

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Abstract

Constitutional law has been utilized in many countries to promote the protection of environmental rights, with varying degrees of success. This essay offers gold mining in Argentina as a case study for examination of the tensions that exist between economic interests and the need to protect the environment, notwithstanding the provisions made for environmental rights within the National Constitution. Due to the significance of the country’s glacier region, the Argentine public has resisted mining developments that threaten this natural resource by taking a multipronged approach. Community protests and blockades have been held, complaints to the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) have been filed by environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), concerted pressure by environmentalists and scientists has led to the passing of glacier protection laws, and judicial action has upheld the legislation in court. At the heart of it all, however, lies the basic constitutional right to a healthy and sustainable environment, which may provide an essential legal foundation that allows legislators and judicial actors alike to give serious weight to environmental considerations in making important policy decisions and rendering court judgments.

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... but in this basin (which covers twice the area of the Mendoza basin) agriculture and industrial activities (e.g., mining) must coexist with the major urban centre of Santiago. In the upper reaches of both basins, high-elevation open-pit mines pose a risk of pollution, and are often below glacierskey water supplies for downstream areas (Khadim, 2016). ...
... These developments, located in high-elevation Andean crests in Chile and Argentina, incited local and national environmental advocacy movements (Talliant, 2013). Social and environmental activist groups organized protests, road blockages and publicity campaigns, and lodged formal complaints with the OECD (Khadim, 2016). ...
... Finally, in 2010, the glacier law was sanctioned (Law 26.639, 2010). The Argentinian National Glacier Act (Talliant, 2013) prohibits activities that could alter the natural condition of glaciers, including mining and oil exploration; protects freshwater and biodiversity; and mandates a national glacier inventory (Khadim, 2016), be completed in 2017. Mining is also legally regulated in the province of Mendoza (Law 7722, 2007). ...
... In some mountain regions, glacier retreat and related processes of change in the cryosphere have afforded greater accessibility for extractive industries and related activities to mine minerals and metals (medium confidence). Accelerated glacier shrinkage and retreat have been reported to facilitate mining activities in Chile, Argentina and Peru (Brenning, 2008;Brenning and Azócar, 2010;Anacona et al., 2018), and Kyrgyzstan (Kronenberg, 2013;Petrakov et al., 2016), which also interact with and have consequences for other social, cultural, economic, political and legal measures, where climate change impacts also play a role (Brenning and Azócar, 2010;Evans et al., 2016;Khadim, 2016;Anacona et al., 2018). However, negative impacts due to cryosphere changes may also occur. ...
... These activities have reportedly generated slope instabilities (Brenning, 2008;Brenning and Azócar, 2010;Torgoev and Omorov, 2014), glacier mass loss due to enhanced surface melt from dust and debris deposition (Torgoev and Omorov, 2014;Arenson et al., 2015b;Petrakov et al., 2016), and even glacier advance by several kilometres , although their impact is considered less than that reported for changes in glaciers due to climatic change (limited evidence, medium agreement). Glacier Protection Laws and similar measures have been introduced in countries such as Chile and Argentina to address these impacts (Khadim, 2016;Anacona et al., 2018;Navarro et al., 2018). In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a declaration in 2018 to "protect and restore water-related ecosystems" in mountain areas as elsewhere from contamination by mining (UNHRC, 2018); however, evidence on the effectiveness of these measures remains inconclusive. ...
Chapter
The cryosphere (including, snow, glaciers, permafrost, lake and river ice) is an integral element of high mountain regions, which are home to roughly 10% of the global population. Widespread cryosphere changes affect physical, biological and human systems in the mountains and surrounding lowlands, with impacts evident even in the ocean. Building on the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report (AR5), this chapter assesses new evidence on observed recent and projected changes in the mountain cryosphere as well as associated impacts, risks and adaptation measures related to natural and human systems. Impacts in response to climate changes independently of changes in the cryosphere are not assessed in this chapter. Polar mountains are included in Chapter 3, except those in Alaska and adjacent Yukon, Iceland and Scandinavia, which are included in this chapter.
... In some mountain regions, glacier retreat and related processes of change in the cryosphere have afforded greater accessibility for extractive industries and related activities to mine minerals and metals (medium confidence). Accelerated glacier shrinkage and retreat have been reported to facilitate mining activities in Chile, Argentina and Peru (Brenning, 2008;Brenning and Azócar, 2010;Anacona et al., 2018) and Kyrgyzstan (Kronenberg, 2013;Petrakov et al., 2016), which also interact with and have consequences for other social, cultural, economic, political, and legal measures, where climate change impacts also play a role (Brenning and Azócar, 2010;Evans et al., 2016;Khadim, 2016;Anacona et al., 2018). However, negative impacts due to cryosphere changes may also occur. ...
... Subject to Copyedit 2-50 Total pages: 94 less than that reported for changes in glaciers due to climatic change (limited evidence, medium agreement). Glacier Protection Laws and similar measures have been introduced in countries such as Chile and Argentina to address these impacts (Khadim, 2016;Anacona et al., 2018;Navarro et al., 2018). In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a declaration in 2018 to "protect and restore water-related ecosystems" in mountain areas as elsewhere from contamination by mining (UNHRC, 2018); however, evidence on the effectiveness of these measures remains inconclusive. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The cryosphere (including, snow, glaciers, permafrost, lake and river ice) is an integral element of high mountain regions, which are home to roughly 10% of the global population. Widespread cryosphere changes affect physical, biological and human systems in the mountains and surrounding lowlands, with impacts evident even in the ocean. Building on the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), this chapter assesses new evidence on observed recent and projected changes in the mountain cryosphere as well as associated impacts, risks and adaptation measures related to natural and human systems. Impacts in response to climate changes independently of changes in the cryosphere are not assessed in this chapter. Polar mountains are included in Chapter 3, except those in Alaska and adjacent Yukon, Iceland, and Scandinavia, which are included in this chapter.
... In some mountain regions, glacier retreat and related processes of change in the cryosphere have afforded greater accessibility for extractive industries and related activities to mine minerals and metals (medium confidence). Accelerated glacier shrinkage and retreat have been reported to facilitate mining activities in Chile, Argentina and Peru (Brenning, 2008;Brenning and Azócar, 2010;Anacona et al., 2018) and Kyrgyzstan (Kronenberg, 2013;Petrakov et al., 2016), which also interact with and have consequences for other social, cultural, economic, political, and legal measures, where climate change impacts also play a role (Brenning and Azócar, 2010;Evans et al., 2016;Khadim, 2016;Anacona et al., 2018). However, negative impacts due to cryosphere changes may also occur. ...
... Subject to Copyedit 2-50 Total pages: 94 less than that reported for changes in glaciers due to climatic change (limited evidence, medium agreement). Glacier Protection Laws and similar measures have been introduced in countries such as Chile and Argentina to address these impacts (Khadim, 2016;Anacona et al., 2018;Navarro et al., 2018). In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a declaration in 2018 to "protect and restore water-related ecosystems" in mountain areas as elsewhere from contamination by mining (UNHRC, 2018); however, evidence on the effectiveness of these measures remains inconclusive. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The cryosphere (including, snow, glaciers, permafrost, lake and river ice) is an integral element of high-mountain regions, which are home to roughly 10% of the global population. Widespread cryosphere changes affect physical, biological and human systems in the mountains and surrounding lowlands, with impacts evident even in the ocean. Building on the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), this chapter assesses new evidence on observed recent and projected changes in the mountain cryosphere as well as associated impacts, risks and adaptation measures related to natural and human systems. Impacts in response to climate changes independently of changes in the cryosphere are not assessed in this chapter
... Diversos trabajos han abordado el proceso que llevó a la sanción de la ley de glaciares, analizando diferentes aspectos del tema (Taillant, 2013;Isla Raffaele, 2015;Khadim, 2016;Christel y Torunczyk, 2017;Healey y Martín, 2017;Albrecht et al., 2018;Wagner, Elías y Bueno, 2018;Christel, 2018;Bottaro y Sola Álvarez, 2018;Haslam, 2018;Martín y Healey, 2020;Langbehn, Schmidt y Pereira, 2020; Straccia e Isla Raffaele 2020). Sin embargo, las controversias que llevaron a la judicialización de un científico, por parte de una asamblea ambiental, y sus posibles consecuencias, aún no han sido profundamente abordadas desde la perspectiva de las ciencias sociales críticas. ...
... Diversos trabajos han abordado el proceso que llevó a la sanción de la ley de glaciares, analizando diferentes aspectos del tema (Taillant, 2013;Isla Raffaele, 2015;Khadim, 2016;Christel y Torunczyk, 2017;Healey y Martín, 2017;Albrecht et al., 2018;Wagner, Elías y Bueno, 2018;Christel, 2018;Bottaro y Sola Álvarez, 2018;Haslam, 2018;Martín y Healey, 2020;Langbehn, Schmidt y Pereira, 2020; Straccia e Isla Raffaele 2020). Sin embargo, las controversias que llevaron a la judicialización de un científico, por parte de una asamblea ambiental, y sus posibles consecuencias, aún no han sido profundamente abordadas desde la perspectiva de las ciencias sociales críticas. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Argentina es el único país que posee una ley nacional de protección de glaciares. Si bien existen inventarios de glaciares en otros lugares del mundo, ninguno tiene un carácter legal –a escala nacional– que establezca incompatibilidades entre usos del suelo: glaciares y ambiente periglacial/actividades prohibidas. El primer proyecto de ley en este sentido fue sancionado en 2008, y posteriormente vetado por el Poder Ejecutivo. Dos años después, un intenso y complejo proceso social impulsó un nuevo proyecto de ley, que fue finalmente sancionado, dando lugar a la Ley 26.639, “Régimen de Presupuestos Mínimos para la Preservación de los Glaciares y del Ambiente Periglacial”. Posteriormente a la sanción de esta ley, aún vigente, pero en continua amenaza de reformulación, se produjeron intensas controversias sociotécnicas (López Cerezo y Luján, 1997, en Merlinsky, 2013) entre diversos actores involucrados en el proceso. Estos desacuerdos derivaron en que una asamblea organizada en rechazo a proyectos mineros en San Juan llevara adelante una demanda judicial (penal) contra funcionarios del área ambiental del gobierno nacional, en la cual también fue implicado un referente del sector científico que había aportado, como director de un instituto de CONICET , al diseño e implementación de ciertas partes de la Ley, siendo a su vez, el primer director del equipo que llevó adelante uno de los mecanismos que esta ley incluye: el Inventario Nacional de Glaciares (ING).
... Diversos trabajos han abordado el proceso que llevó a la sanción de la ley de glaciares, analizando diferentes aspectos del tema (Taillant, 2013;Isla Raffaele, 2015;Khadim, 2016;Christel y Torunczyk, 2017;Healey y Martín, 2017;Albrecht et al., 2018;Wagner, Elías y Bueno, 2018;Christel, 2018;Bottaro y Sola Álvarez, 2018;Haslam, 2018;Martín y Healey, 2020;Langbehn, Schmidt y Pereira, 2020; Straccia e Isla Raffaele 2020). Sin embargo, las controversias que llevaron a la judicialización de un científico, por parte de una asamblea ambiental, y sus posibles consecuencias, aún no han sido profundamente abordadas desde la perspectiva de las ciencias sociales críticas. ...
... Diversos trabajos han abordado el proceso que llevó a la sanción de la ley de glaciares, analizando diferentes aspectos del tema (Taillant, 2013;Isla Raffaele, 2015;Khadim, 2016;Christel y Torunczyk, 2017;Healey y Martín, 2017;Albrecht et al., 2018;Wagner, Elías y Bueno, 2018;Christel, 2018;Bottaro y Sola Álvarez, 2018;Haslam, 2018;Martín y Healey, 2020;Langbehn, Schmidt y Pereira, 2020; Straccia e Isla Raffaele 2020). Sin embargo, las controversias que llevaron a la judicialización de un científico, por parte de una asamblea ambiental, y sus posibles consecuencias, aún no han sido profundamente abordadas desde la perspectiva de las ciencias sociales críticas. ...
Preprint
Argentina es el único país que posee una ley nacional de protección de glaciares. Si bien existen inventarios de glaciares en otros lugares del mundo, ninguno tiene un carácter legal –a escala nacional– que establezca incompatibilidades entre usos del suelo: glaciares y ambiente periglacial/actividades prohibidas. El primer proyecto de ley en este sentido fue sancionado en 2008, y posteriormente vetado por el Poder Ejecutivo. Dos años después, un intenso y complejo proceso social impulsó un nuevo proyecto de ley, que fue finalmente sancionado, dando lugar a la Ley 26.639, “Régimen de Presupuestos Mínimos para la Preservación de los Glaciares y del Ambiente Periglacial”. Posteriormente a la sanción de esta ley, aún vigente, pero en continua amenaza de reformulación, se produjeron intensas controversias sociotécnicas (López Cerezo y Luján, 1997, en Merlinsky, 2013) entre diversos actores involucrados en el proceso. Estos desacuerdos derivaron en que una asamblea organizada en rechazo a proyectos mineros en San Juan llevara adelante una demanda judicial (penal) contra funcionarios del área ambiental del gobierno nacional, en la cual también fue implicado un referente del sector científico que había aportado, como director de un instituto de CONICET , al diseño e implementación de ciertas partes de la Ley, siendo a su vez, el primer director del equipo que llevó adelante uno de los mecanismos que esta ley incluye: el Inventario Nacional de Glaciares (ING). En: Marina Miraglia y Ana Marcela França (comp) 2021. Paisaje y patrimonio: impresiones de la historia en el ambiente natural. Universidad Nacional de Quilmes-TESEO. (en prensa). The Glacier inventory in Argentina: public controversies and disputes of meaning
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