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Over one-sixth of the world's population relies on rapidly-disappearing tropical glaciers.* These glaciers exist in close proximity to the equator due to the high altitude of the mountains where they are found. The tropical glaciers of the Andes in South America have been an intrinsic part of the survival of both the indigenous peoples living there and their culture. Increased glacial melt due to climate change causes deadly floods that threaten mountain communities and deplete their long-term water sources. The United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights applies to this situation, but an organized international effort to find a solution has yet to be launched. Meanwhile, climate change increasingly puts the continuation of many indigenous communities and their cultures in jeopardy. In this study, I examine the threat climate change presents to the indigenous peoples and cultures of the Andes through the following lenses: the scientific explanation for the geophysical processes threatening indigenous peoples, the cultural destruction that climate change is causing, the legal argument for protections besides the right to property, and the overall impact and probable consequences of this developing loss on a global scale. * Konkel, Lindsey. "What Are Tropical Glaciers and Why Do They Matter?" Science Line, December 15, 2008.



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How is climate change endangering indigenous Andean cultures?