Friday, February 10, 2012

Grand Theft Frigid

OK, did you miss the story too?  I don’t think most networks carried it but thanks to the BBC we know that a Chilean glacier was robbed last month. Yes, robbed.  Officials in the town of Cochrane caught the guy cold handed with five tons of glacial ice in the back of his truck and ugly hack marks despoiling the face of the Jorge Montt Glacier in the Patagonia region of Chile.  Oh, the humanity.

But I guess to get serious, it was a crime and it’s good the thief was caught.  The glacier in question is not just some random snow field but a recognized glacier “living” within a national park.  And the guy was selling the glacial ice to bars where touristas pay a premium for vintage ice in their whisky.  His haul was actually worth a cool $6100 USD.  More than I would have guessed and it’s not like the goods were going to be used to quench the thirst of orphans or some other noble cause.

But you can’t have folks hauling stuff out of national parks or preserves – either for souvenirs or for profit.  If you’ve ever visited a U.S. national park you realize the heavily enforced edict of “leave nature where you find it so others can enjoy.”  Sure I would have liked a piece of fossil tree from my visit to Petrified Forest National Park last Fall or a near-perfect sphere of hard granite from Boulder Beach at Acadia the previous year. But mothers’ universal advice rings in our ears: Look but don’t touch.

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