Today’s Planet Earth: Our Loving Home will be presented in Spanish and Quechua, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Nature-loving viewers, welcome to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. This week we present excerpts from a climate change documentary about the South American nation of Peru titled: “Life Is Not the Same Anymore: Perceptions of Climate Change in Two Micro-basins in the Andes of Southern Peru.”

The film, produced by the Climate Change Adaptation Program (PACC) Peru, contains testimonies of rural Peruvian farmers in the Southern Andes, specifically in the Departments of Apurímac and Cusco, regarding the impact of global warming on their lives and livelihoods. The Climate Change Adaptation Program Peru is a collaboration between the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The organization helps the underprivileged rural residents of Apurímac and Cusco adapt to global warming, with programs in such areas as water management and food security. We now present the film “Life Is Not the Same Anymore: Perceptions of Climate Change in Two Micro-basins in the Andes of Southern Peru.”

Life Is Not the Same Anymore: Perceptions of Climate Change in Two Micro-basins in the Andes of Southern Peru

This is a world of old rivers. An awe-inspiring place. These are Apurímac’s valleys and ravines, as described by the Peruvian writer José María Arguedas.

Mollebamba micro-basin, Apurímac, Peru Altitude 2900-5100 meters above sea level 5 rural communities

In the lower section of the basin we grow corn,alfalfa, broad beans, and barley. Higher up we grow potatoes, papalisas, olluco, mashua...

Huacrahuacho is located 400 kilometers southeast, many days down the road. It is a rather flat region.

Huacrahuacho micro-basin, Cusco, Peru Altitude 3800-3900 meters above sea level 15 rural communities

It is hard to work in the fields here. It requires a lot of will, unlike other jobs.

Huacrahuacho and Mollebamba are very different places. Even the Quechua language is pronounced differently. But over the past few years their inhabitants have begun to notice exactly the same things.

We used to know the exact time for rainy, dry or frost seasons. If it continued like that, everything would be fine. But we now perceive something rather different. Rain and frosts come before and after their time.

That is why we’re practically changing our entire agricultural calendar, and as a result, we have lower yields, right? Because things are not what they used to be. In less time...our crops don’t have time to ripen, they don’t produce as they should.

The large ecosystems of the Andes began to change a long while ago. The glaciers have lost 25% of their mass in the past 30 years. Events like El Niño seem to have increased in frequency and intensity. The international scientific community almost unanimously recognizes that these alterations are part of a tremendous global climate change. Climate variability is not new in the Andes. People have experienced it for more than 10,000 years. It always existed, but it was never like this.

Last year it rained just a little bit. Almost nothing. It feels like drought season around here.

This year the small amount of rainfall that percolated into the subsoil of the mountains was a minimal quantity. As a result, the mountains remain dry.

This river is called T’uqrayakqin. It used to be overflowing, it used to flow in all directions. We couldn’t cross to the other side on foot. Sometimes we were unable to go to the market, being unable to cross. Three irrigation channels are derived from this river. They are supposed to supply us with water all year round. But we can no longer use the three channels at the same time anymore. The river used to go through that plain, that slope and right here.

And now the water doesn’t arrive anymore?

No, the water doesn’t come, it has dried up.

In semi-arid zones like these, water is an old problem. This has only worsened over the last few years.

I wanted to show you the water problem we’re facing. With the reduction, which is evident this year, the whole population is extremely worried. Because this is the spring that we call Tintaya. That is why we’re concerned, because in previous years, we had a bigger volume, and we could work in the best way, and we were supplied with water for the irrigation of all the small farms. But now, a little ... with the reduction we have to wait for our turn to irrigate. And sometimes we wait too long, and the time for corn is over, for broad beans and so on, right? The sowing of agave.

We talk about the water issues in our community meetings. There is not as much water as before. Even the lakes are drying up. Some have already dried up. Water is no longer normal.

The springs have become like dry ashes now. We don’t find an explanation either and nobody comes to explain it to us. “This is what is happening”. No one even says that to us.

Every once in a while, the Andean climate variability increases. People perceive that the weather is out of control. The indigenous chronicler Guaman Poma de Ayala wrote about the droughts and floods that devastated southern Peru during the time of the Incan ruler Pachacutec. Centuries ago, a severe El Niño event might have caused the end of the (pre-Incan) Wari and Tiawanaco states. The end of the Moche and Nasca kingdoms might have been caused by a severe drought.

We have to adapt anyway, right? Sometimes we say, “This is God’s punishment. What have we done? Let’s move somewhere else.” But we can’t leave our land, where would we go?

Current weather pattern changes surpass by far anything seen before. What is happening in Mollebamba or Huacrahuacho now, is not part of the natural cycle of the Andes. For the first time in history, these changes are being caused by human action.

Why do you think these weather changes are happening?

It could be due to deforestation and forest burning that we sometimes perform.

High mountain systems are complex and fragile. What humans do here locally, has an equal or greater impact than the global scale processes of climate change. The dissapearance of the Andean forests began thousands of years ago, with the arrival of the first humans in this part of the world. Trees resemble a green blanket that mitigates the impact of rainfall, regulates the atmosphere’s humidity, and protects the soil from erosion.

But over the last four centuries, deforestation has increased. Coal and timber were needed for cities, mining and construction. Without the forests, the humidity in these ecosystems decreases. Desertification begins.

I see that every year the heat increases in the land, more and more. In the months of August, September October and November, it gets as hot as on the coast, Very intense.

We used to be able to walk on this side of the mountain during the day. Not anymore because it burns your feet like fire.

Before it wasn’t like this. I used to live here before.

Desertification is a vicious cycle. Frost, droughts and hailstorms are now more intense and recurrent.

Hail storms used to be less intense. But today they are more intense. The same with the frosts.

Two weeks ago, we had a hailstorm, a very, very ,strong one, then almost two weeks later, came the frost.

Two or three years ago we had a poor harvest of potatoes, broad beans and corn because a hailstorm came, and right after, a severe frost. Last year we also had a really bad harvest. This year has been so-so. We recently also had a strong hailstorm here. I don’t know if the corn will survive.

In order to irrigate the lowlands, people drain the highland swamps. Headwaters dry up. Conflicts increase.

This channel is part of a 13-kilometer irrigation system built to water our cornfields.

Why is the channel so long? Why are you taking the water from such a long distance?

Because of the lack of water over there, in that area, there is not much water there. Springs there have all dried up. We used to have more water. We even had more farms that were irrigated, but now not even half of those are being irrigated.

What awaits our children? If water is so scarce. That is one of our concerns. I can’t imagine what will happen to them if there is no water. We are thinking about it in my community, brother.

We won’t suffer much at our age, but we worry about our children sometimes, the ones that are coming, the new generation..

Maybe it will be more drastic, more terrible, it will be harder for them. They are our concern, our children, our grandchildren.

Desertification is worsened by climate change. But desertification also causes climate change at the local level. Everything is connected. We walk on our land thinking, we also need to take care of our Earth well Thanks to her we have something. She is our food source.

This is the main challenge we face as human beings. Our survival depends on thinking about nature in a completely different way.

Observing this situation, we have organized now and have decided to build water reservoirs. Each community has been given its own water collection system to address shortages.

I’ve sowed, planted trees over at that hill. There they are, you can see them, notice them already. There must be 40 or 50 trees there, so I hope they’ll help create a micro-climate, so maybe the rainfall won’t wash the soil down. We can also build percolation ditches.

My wife and I started building percolation ditches. It took us almost three months to build 450 ditches on that hillside. We’re planning to build a total of 600. After we finished, we noticed that the water flow had increased. One day all the ditches filled up with rain water, looking like shining mirrors, bright reflectors. “What’s that?” people asked. “That’s water!”

In the Andes, weather changes don’t happen by chance or accident. They’re signs. Humans are behaving wrongly. Human morality is failing. Humans are not honoring their fundamental allegiance to nature. Nature will recover its balance only when humans rectify their actions. And only then will the sound of the ancient Andeans rivers continue reaching the summits, like whispers from space.

We sincerely thank the Climate Change Adaptation Program Peru for producing the documentary, “Life Is Not the Same Anymore: Perceptions of Climate Change in Two Micro-basins in the Andes of Southern Peru.” May the film awaken many people, make them think more deeply about climate change and take constructive action now to help save our fragile planet Earth.

For more information on the Climate Change Adaptation Program Peru please visit:

Sensitive viewers, thank you for joining us on today’s program. Let us all contribute to the formation of a sustainable Earth.