NewsFebruary 6, 2012

To Catch a Glacier Thief, Follow the Ice Cubes

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By Rory Carroll, The Guardian

Climate change skeptics have acquired a new explanation for why glaciers are retreating: it's not global warming, it's theft.

A chunk of the 5 tons of ice believed stolen from the Jorge Montt glacier, which was discovered by police in a refrigerated truck.

Police in Chile have arrested a man on suspicion of stealing five tons of ice from the Jorge Montt glacier in the Patagonia region to sell as designer ice cubes in bars and restaurants.

Police intercepted a refrigerated truck with an estimated $6,164 worth of illicit ice allegedly bound for whiskies, rums and cocktails in the capital Santiago.

Authorities have accused the driver of theft and are considering adding violation of national monuments to the charge sheet.

Scientists say Jorge Montt, part of the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park, is retreating by half a mile a year, making it one of the world's fastest shrinking glaciers.

Environmentalists have cited it as evidence that man-made climate change is warming the planet. Skeptics have cited other explanations for retreating glaciers, but theft — until now — was not one of them. It may be the only case in which both sides agree human activity was to blame.

Rory Carroll is the Guardian's Latin America Correspondent. Reprinted with permission.