Glaciers are not "essential".Here is another example of a profound ignorance and disconnect from all our biosphere does for us - or more importantly our society's dependence on her health that Republican/ libertarian "Think Tanks" and Faith Based institution's vociferous efforts to dumb down American have achieve for our country.
https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/glaciers/questions/people.html Do glaciers affect people? Today, glaciers often are tourist attractions in mountainous areas. But glaciers are also a natural resource, and people all over the world use the meltwater that glaciers produce. GLACIERS PROVIDE DRINKING WATER People living in arid climates near mountains often rely on glacial melt for their water for part of the year. Many of the rivers coursing through China, India, and other parts of the Asian continent are fed largely by snowmelt from the Himalaya, but in late summer a significant part of riverflow comes from melting glaciers. In South America, residents of La Paz, Bolivia, rely on glacial melting from a nearby ice cap to provide water during the significant dry spells they sometimes experience. Demand for glacier water has increased in other, perhaps less expected ways, too. Some beverage companies sell bottles of glacial meltwater, and ice cubes made of glacier ice are popular in some specialty drinks. In fact, a Chilean man was arrested in 2012 for stealing five tons of ice from the Jorge Montt Glacier. He had planned to sell the ice to restaurants in the capital, Santiago. GLACIERS IRRIGATE CROPS Over a thousand years ago, farmers in Asia knew that dark colors absorb solar energy. So they spread dark-colored materials such as soil and ashes over snow to promote melting, and this is how they watered their crops during dry periods. Chinese and Russian researchers tried something similar by sprinkling coal dust onto glaciers, hoping that the melting will provide water to the drought-stricken countries of India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The experiment proved to be too costly, and they have abandoned the idea. But in Ladakh, India, an engineer has successfully created several small, artificial glaciers to provide more water for crops and drinking during seasonal dry periods. These man-made glaciers are situated in areas to catch large amounts of water that would otherwise flow away, and will have temperatures low enough to freeze that water over the winter. Warm summer weather slowly melts these glaciers, releasing a steady supply of water. In Switzerland's Rhone Valley, farmers have irrigated their crops for hundreds of years by channeling meltwater from glaciers to their fields. GLACIERS HELP GENERATE HYDROELECTRIC POWER Scientists and engineers in Norway, central Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and South America have worked together to tap into glacial resources, using electricity that has been generated in part by damming glacial meltwater.
Andean glaciers vanish, add socio-economic strains http://www.focal.ca/en/publications/focalpoint/221-february-2010-dirk-hoffmann Dirk Hoffmann The failure to reach a new binding agreement on emission cuts for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at the December 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen imperils glaciers worldwide —not only polar ice caps but also tropical glaciers that are located in equatorial mountain ranges. What still remains of the world’s tropical glaciers, more than 95 per cent of which are found in the four Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, is doomed to disappear within the next few decades, threatening many livelihoods. The evidence There has been a rapid retreat of all glaciers since 1980 in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru: studies indicate they lost between a half and a third of their volume. … The impacts The accelerated retreat of the Tropical Andes glaciers has devastating regional and local impacts. As natural water storages with regulating functions, over centuries glaciers accumulate precipitation in the form of snow during the wet season and release melted water during the dry season, guaranteeing a minimum ecological stream flow —the necessary amount of water to preserve aquatic life and minimize pollution— in mountain rivers and brooks, and providing farmers, hydro companies or water enterprises with water when it is most needed. Glacier retreat will affect the hydrological cycle and hence carry important consequences in terms of water availability for urban and rural populations, production of hydro energy, conservation of flora and fauna as well as equilibrium of mountain ecosystems. In fact, glaciers play important roles well beyond mountain areas. The Andean glaciers meltdown will have its greatest impact in Peru, where more than 70 per cent of the world’s tropical glaciers are located. In addition, millions of Peruvians live on its semi-desert coastal plains —either in the capital, Lima, or other large cities— and depend almost exclusively on the water captured in the mountains to sustain their livelihoods. Peru will also grapple with important economic strains; for the Río Santa power plant alone, which runs on the heavily-glaciated Cordillera Blanca in northern Peru, a 2006 World Bank study estimates that this meltdown could cost the country anywhere between US$6 and US$72 million. The same study calculates that Peru will have to spend over US$100 million in water supply for the eight million inhabitants of the greater Lima area once glacial melt has come to a halt. In the case of Bolivia, researchers claim that over the last 50 years, half of the glacier area has melted in the Tuni Condoriri catchment area, which provided much of El Alto’s and some of La Paz’ water supply, as reported by the French-led program GREAT ICE (Glaciers et ressources en eau d’altitude — Indicateurs climatiques et environnementaux). In 20 to 30 years’ time, the area will be completely ice-free. Even where global warming is seen as an opportunity to expand agricultural activity to new, higher areas as freezing levels move up —as is happening in some parts of the Apolobamba mountain range in northern Bolivia— new problems arise when rainfall diminishes or when the uphill use of water resources leads to conflict with traditional downhill water users. Ecuador is already bringing water from the wet oriental Andean slopes to its two million inhabitants living in Quito. Not only is such a water diversion scheme very costly, but it has a high potential for conflict as this water will no longer be available in its region of origin; glacier retreat will only reinforce the current strain. Colombia’s glaciers play a less important economic role and thus their retreat will not have a resounding impact on its population but it is nevertheless disquieting to know they are expected to completely disappear by 2020, as recently calculated by Colombian researchers Germán Poveda and Ketty Pineda.