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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

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.