May 21, 2009 10:30 AM Subscribe
posted by CheeseDigestsAll (14 comments total)
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NASA recently released a series of photographs documenting the loss of the Aral Sea
over the past ten years. The Aral Sea could be the poster child for human damage to the ecosystem. In a mere four decades, it has gone from a surface area of 68000 km^2 to less that a quarter of that, with a 10x drop in water volume. As its Wikipedia article
points out, this is the equivalent of completely draining two of the five Great Lakes.
Much of the water has been lost to making Uzbekistan the fifth largest producer and second largest exporter of cotton
, a notoriously water-hungry crop. Other disasters inflicted on the sea include destruction of the fishing economy
, loss of wildlife, industrial waste, pesticide and fertilizer pollution, enormous dust storms
, and a bioweapons lab
In the last few years, the water level in the north has risen slightly due to a rescue effort,
but it is only a partial success in a plan with a limited scope.