We keep crying out about global warming and the atrocities humans commit on nature but do nothing about it. Well, it looks like it’s time to stop screaming and start acting. The Aral Sea, lying between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in Asia is now no more than a tiny strip of water. The massive water body has dried up over the years, turning the surrounding land from a flourishing haven to an arid desert. While the drying up of the lake has affected civilisation living on the banks, it has also taken away the most important means of income for the locals, i.e. fishing. The drying up naturally resulted in a loss of marine species and no employment for the local population.
The Aral sea, which is actually a lake, was the fourth largest lake in the world and its disappearance over a period of just 50 years is indeed shocking. This is what the lake looked like in the past:
And this is how it looks today:
But how is that possible?
In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union began using the waters of the lake for irrigation in the arid lands. The water was used extensively and the load on the lake was so great that the water-body slowly began to dry up. Additionally, the lake was also treated as a dumping ground for waste, leading to the pollution levels in the water rising dangerously high, killing marine life.
Irrigation on the lake was commenced by Stalin under his cotton independence scheme. Though the plan was for the benefit of society at large, the dams and irrigation projects constructed on the rivers which fed waters to the lake were shoddy. Dam walls had leaks and were not strong enough resulting in massive water wastage. It was in October 2014 that the Eastern lobe dried up completely for the first time. The seabed that replaced the sea is barren and arid land, which is of no use.
The disappearance of the world’s fourth largest lake is definitely alarming news and ought to be a learning lesson for all.