Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Aral Sea Has Vanished

Since I tend to focus on the social side of politics, I tend to ignore stories such as this, but this one really caught my attention.

The Aral Sea (which used to be the answer to the question, "What is the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world?") has now shrunk to ten percent of its former size, as these satellite photos so shockingly demonstrate:

So what's happened? Short answer: Global Warming. A combination of hotter summers and drier air speeding evaporation and the short-sighted petty jealousies between some 'Stans (in this case Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) which has so far impeded any thoughts as to how to restore water to the lake has resulted in the death of untold number of fish -- as well as a formerly-thriving fishing industry -- in the lake.

So go ahead, you wingnut anti-climate-change fundo Xian low IQ proponents of, in the word of Oklahoma Senator James I'm-a-Moron-AND-I-Play-One-in-Congress Inhofe, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" (not to Inhofe: I think that honor belongs to you personally, sir), try to deny this proof.

I can just imagine. The photos are faked, the satellite is government-owned, the picture is actually of a mud puddle, etc etc etc).

And lest you fall into the trap of "it's one of the 'Stans, it doesn't affect me", you should consider this: A large part of our domestic fruit and vegetable consumption comes from California, and the California water system is already shaky. Fresh water that should be going onto the fields is being diverted by those long concrete rivers you see as you drive down I-5. It's going to the greater LA area, where it is used to water ... the lawns of the wealthy.

Let's not forget history: Owens Lake was full of water until 1924, when a fraudulent scheme ended up grabbing the water from the Owens River that fed the lake and pipelining it off to Los Angeles.

This scheme BTW was brilliantly illustrated in the great 1974 film Chinatown.


Anonymous said...

Good god! Is that photo authentic????? Can this be real?

Jay in N.C.

Anonymous said...

Found this on Wikipedia, for what it's worth. Looks like this was an engineering problem (probably by the Soviet/Russian variety of Republicans) rather than the result of global warming/climate change.

Jay in N.C.

"Once among the four largest lakes of the world with an area of 68,000 square kilometres (26,000 sq mi), the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet Union irrigation projects. By 2007 it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into three lakes[2] – the North Aral Sea and the eastern and western basins of the once far larger South Aral Sea. By 2009, the south-eastern lake had disappeared and the south-western lake retreated to a thin strip at the extreme west of the former southern sea."