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A sign on the Pastouri glacier shows the extent of ice 30 years prior.

Climate change brought water to the coastal deserts of Peru, letting farms there flourish for decades. But now the rapidly-melting glaciers have shrunk too much — and as the water disappears, the farms it fuels also might, writes Nicholas Casey for the New York Times.

Why it matters: These ice caps support over 100,000 acres of farmland, and the 8,000 tons of produce grown there is shipped as far away as China and Denmark. Before farmers started irrigating the desert with meltwater, "the land was empty and people went hungry," farmer Miguel Beltrán tells the Times. Today, hundreds of thousands of people rely on the water to live and work.

The impact:

  • As the glaciers retreated, they exposed heavy metals in the soil like cadmium. That's washing into the water and contaminating it.
  • Warmer temperatures have allowed insects, rats and other pests, to migrate up the mountains and into the fields.
  • Water flow during the dry season is already decreasing noticeably.

What they're doing: Farmers are digging wells and the government started construction on a dam to catch and store rainy-season precipitation. But dam construction is stalled indefinitely and wells and aquifers can only support so much agriculture.

The bottom line: The water is drying up, and fixes like dams are temporary measures. "Each year there is less water; each day there is less water," climatologist César Portocarrero told the NYT.

Go deeper

Poll: U.S. leadership approval rebounds from Trump low

A Gallup report published Tuesday found approval of United States leadership in 46 countries and territories hit 49% — up from 30% at the end of Donald Trump's presidency, and matching former President Obama's first year (2009).

Why it matters: Biden's efforts to reengage with the international community following the Trump administration appear to be improving the global approval ratings for U.S. leadership, though this poll does not take into account the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

"No-code" miracle for startups

Expand chart
Data: Interactive Advertising Bureau; Table: Axios Visuals

The U.S. has reached a tipping point in its shift from the industrial economy — one that relied on the buildout of hardware — to an information economy that relies on the transfer, storage and implementation of data, according to a new report.

Why it matters: This shift towards a data and information-based economy has allowed more businesses to establish themselves and scale quickly and at a very low cost. As such, the number of jobs created by the commercial internet has more than tripled since 2012.

Amazon's small business shield

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon is touting the success of small sellers on its platform through the pandemic — and warning that antitrust legislation could jeopardize that success and blow up its open-marketplace model.

Why it matters: As online shopping became a lifeline for both businesses and consumers during the pandemic, Amazon reaped big benefits, but also saw its regulatory risk grow.