World lakes are drying up
Global warming is changing a big part of our environment. But did you ever realize that impact can be so huge that it could cause also drying up the big lakes in the world? Why is it so, when on the other hand we face dramatic sea level rising?
In today´s new era of conditions dangerously affected by global warming, the world’s waters are rapidly running dry creating crisis for wild habitats and human civilization. Most threatened are specific seas, rivers, lakes and underground water reserves. The most serious problem is its impact on livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, animals, farming, lives, electricity, and threatening with CO2 and methane release, exacerbating climate change. Experience tells us that almost everything in nature is connected and every change in the natural environment will have smaller or bigger consequences.
One of the problems is always rising population as large as 7 billion people. Naturally, it takes a lot of water to keep everything running. We use water to drink, make food, wash, create energy, manufacture products, extract raw minerals from the Earth and many other things in between. The average family of four can use more than 1500 litres (by WHO is “hygienic” minimum 70 litres/per person/per day) of indoor water or more every day, to say nothing of the massive quantities of water used by businesses, farms and industry. Also electricity is generated by turbines using massive amounts of water. All that water has to come from somewhere, and that´s why it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that there are a lot of places around the world that are literally drying up. When we use more water than is naturally put back into the system, we draw down the overall supply. That simple equation is the brutal reality the following dried up lakes, rivers and seas. In this article we will explore some of the most affected places.
Lake Poopó was Bolivia’s second largest lake and played an important part in local living and wildlife, but it is essentially dry now. About two-thirds of the 500 or so families in the surrounding area, many of which survived by fishing in the lake, have already left the area to seek out a living elsewhere. Meanwhile, millions of fish and 500 birds, including flamingos, have died due to the dried up lake.
Drought, climate change and diverting water from the lake’s primary source of water are largely credited with contributing the Poopó’s decline. The left side of image –lake with some water remaining- was taken in April 2013. But in January 2016 we could see only dried up lakebed, featured on the right image.
Aral Sea, which sits on the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, is now a disconnected collection of small ponds of sea water sitting in a dusty bowl. It is sad that it used to be one large body of water. Over the last several decades the lake has receded by as much as 75% to 90% following moves from the former Soviet Union which diverted waters from the Ama Dariya river and the Syrdariya river – both of which fed into the Aral Sea – to grow cotton in the desert. With the receding waters went a large fishing industry, leaving high rates of unemployment and fishing boats left to dry on the former shoreline.
The ecological disaster which followed left the seabed covered in salt – with winds blowing this salt into the surrounding regions – and changing the surrounding climate – with shorter, hotter and rainless summers and longer, colder and snowless winters. Fish were previously a staple diet for those living around the Aral Sea, but due to droughts they have diminished and drinking water is salinated. While work is currently underway to change the farming methods said to cause the problem, the lakes may never fully recover. The Aral Sea is easily one of the biggest human-caused environmental failures in history.
Iran’s Lake Urmia has become the latest lake to be categorised as under “serious threat” from climate change, but like we can see it’s the latest in a long line of similar disappearances.
A recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that studies of Lake Urmia have seen a decline in water levels of seven meters between 1995-2011. The main cause for the drying up of the lake is drought caused by climate change impacting the inflow to the lake – resulting in a 65% reduction in water levels. Increased diversion for irrigated agriculture, the building of dams and reduced rainfall over the lake’s surface, are also named as contributing factors. Scientists have warned that continued decline of Lake Urmia could have huge impacts on the area. These include a changing local climate – hitting agriculture, livelihoods and heath, increasing the salinity of the water, destroying ecosystems and wetland habitats and increasing the chances of wind-blown ‘salt storms’.
The list, unfortunately, doesn’t stop there. According to the World Preservation Foundation diminishing rivers spread as far as South America (Lake Cachet, Chile), Europe (the Mersey and the Severn, UK and the Rhine, Germany), Australia (Lake Colac), Asia (Mekong-Lancang) and Africa (the Nile). For some of them, it´s too late for saving, but the world society should consider their actions and impacts of building dams and interference in nature, before it´s too late. In the future, we either change our customs and thinking or we will be obliged to adapt to harder conditions we are contributing to.
by Kristína Husárová
Sources : http://www.worldpreservationfoundation.org/topic.php?cat=climateChange&vid=48#.V1VF6fmLTIU http://www.etrend.sk/ekonomika/spotreba-vody-sa-blizi-k-hygienickemu-minimu.html http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/photos/7-lakes-and-rivers-that-are-drying-up/bone-dry https://www.google.sk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjdv-HuxpPNAhVBuRQKHQ9LBm0QjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.internationalrivers.org%2Fresources%2Fegypt-demands-ethiopia-halt-nile-dam-upping-stakes-7997&bvm=bv.123664746,d.d24&psig=AFQjCNEa9u6AxFG_LfYijZFu29OOxU5Dow&ust=1465307733999789 http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2012/05/23/chiles-lake-cachet-ii-vanished-in-less-than-24-hours/ http://www.dw.com/image/0,,19028962_401,00.jpg