Aral Sea Disaster – cause and effect

30 09 2009

15262373Soviet  hunger for cotton and rice  to supply an ever – growing population in the 1960’s has caused one of the greatest man-made ecological disasters that many of us will ever witness.  The Aral Sea, very recently the 4th largest inland body of water in the world (by surface area), has become a mere puddle of what it used to be.

Straddling the borders of Northwestern Uzbekistan and Southern Kazakhstan, the Aral Sea has been for thousands of years an inland saltwater sea with no outlet. Two main rivers, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, kept the salty lake in balance to support a commercial fishery, tourism, and a true oasis in a very dry, remote region of Central Asia. As many as 20 species of fish flourished in the giant glacial bathtub, and life along the shore was intrinsically linked to the inland sea.

Fast forward 45 years, and the oasis has become a toxic desert. Monoculture crops that were dependent on heavy use of pesticides and massive diversions of water from the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya , have turned the once bountiful region into a place of man – made misery.  As the sea dried and the shoreline shrank (now the 10th largest inland body of water, a fifth of what it once was) , the salty soil underneath became exposed along with the runoff of all that pesticide.

The communities along the Aral Sea became disease – ridden ghost towns as the link to the sea was severed. The  result has been economic collapse and a spike in respiratory diseases and related cancers due to the toxic dust and water that residents are  subject to. Along with the collapse of the physical environment the region has suffered culturally as well. Truly the largest anthropogenic (man-made) ecological disaster of the 20th century.

The Aral Sea disaster has been a stark reminder of man tinkering with the forces of nature without consideration for the long – term after effects on an extremely vulnerable Eco-system and the people who have for centuries resided along its shores.

This is a very evident case for anthropogenic environmental disaster. Diversion of the Aral’s two main rivers cut off the water supply to this once vast sea. Without the water, natural evaporation took away more than was being poured into the basin. Add the nasty bug-killing chemicals into the mix, and you have a recipe for a death sentence. Only one of the estimated 20 species of fish has been able to survive the abrupt increase in salinity. Plants and vegetation have succumbed to the rapid desertification of the region. In fact, the loss of that much water has led to a regional climate shift, whereas the once temperature – moderating effect of all that H2O is now mostly gone, like the water itself.

Avoidable? Probably. Hubris? Absolutely. We know the causes for the tragedy, and we know the effects. Over the course of the last 45 years, we have been able to witness and record this preventable catastrophe with the aid of data from hundreds of researchers including biologists, geographers, hydrologists, and climatologists. The effects are a direct result of the causes. It’s really a no-brainer.

I became aware of the Aral Sea disaster way back in the 80’s when it was  still a substantial body of water. Over the past two and a half decades, I’ve watched this once prolific inland sea vaporize in real time. It has influenced my involvement in organizations that advocate water quality and availability. It has always been clear as to the drivers of this disaster. I can evaluate the data, compare trends and physical changes in the environment, and draw my own conclusion as to why this happened.

Not so when it comes to anthropogenic climate change. Specifically, global warming with Co2 as the driver. We know the effects, or are beginning to. In actuality, many of what some deem as evidence of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), including Arctic ice melting, glaciers retreating, droughts, storms, and any other climate-related event is clearly not evidence that Co2 caused any of this. Why then are so many individuals absolutely positive that man-made Co2 is the cause of Climate Change?

Back in the 90’s I think we were all on the bandwagon. I know I was. As world governments began investigating ideas such as a carbon tax, I was one of the ambulance-chasers, keen on exploiting a grave disservice to make a healthy profit. I was assigned the role of Green House Gas Verification (GHGV) “expert” by my employer in 2005, a global organization based in the UK. I attended a GHGV course run by Environment Canada. The principal trainer was a dirt-munching, tree-hugging Aussie lass who had several examples of the Australian government’s carbon-influenced policy changes, and the nasty carbon-criminal perpetrators she encountered in her line of work. The curriculum was a unique blend of engineering principles, and chartered accountant practices. Gas = $. Based on Intensity.

I didn’t pass the course (not much of an engineer or an accountant) but it was instrumental in opening my mind to the science of it all. Over the  next two years, I began to examine the data driving the polemic of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming).  What I discovered has not only made me feel like a senior swindled out of their entire life-savings by a telemarketing scam, but has ignited a passion for science and the basic understanding of what science really is.

Science is objective. A scientific theory can be turned into an undeniable belief by many if it is widely accepted as a theory. The world was once believed to be flat. It only takes one person to prove a theory wrong.  The data that is available (to those with the wherewithal to research it) on the anthropogenic effects of Co2 on climate lead the scientifically- inclined to call bullshit on the popular opinion.

Thanks to the likes of the IPCC  “Hockey stick” graph (popularized by Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth” and REMOVED from the most recent IPCC Assessment Report on Climate Change) much of the global populace is polarized in their belief that Co2 is driving climate change. That particular graph has been proven to be faulty, as the data fed into the computer model was either corrupt, or manipulated. There is a very good reason the IPCC no longer references the graph. Let us remember that real data, such as the data regarding the Aral Sea, is a far cry from what any computer model can churn out.

Any layman’s examination of ice core data clearly demonstrates that Co2 lags behind (as much as 800 years) an increase in global temperature. While the two may be related, scientific data reveals that Co2 follows an increase in temperature, it does not precede it. Thus, Co2, and in effect the Greenhouse Gas Global Warming theory,  is not a driver for climate change…if you use science to intemperate this theory. The fact that the “Greenhouse Signature” is missing from recent data over the tropics where the effect should be obvious, the fact that temperatures have not risen globally since 2001, and that Co2 is a minor gas in the GHG equation, absorbing almost as much as it can, leads the scientifically inclined to asses that something else is causing climate change.

We, as a civilization, coupled with the human condition, are quick to latch on to the cause, because we sincerely feel bad for the “climate crimes” we have perpetrated with Co2. We feel better knowing what the cause is, and reducing our impact to hopefully reverse the effects we believe man has set in motion.

It gives us all warm fuzzies to reduce our “carbon-footprint”, while those of us who have nothing better to do, or are so fanatical in our zeal,  protest by way of enviro-terrorism (see: Greenpeace). All because we are steadfast in our belief (via government-sponsored acceptance and kowtowing media..which results in more hysteria and more people buying “media’s product”) that WE have caused the planet to warm as a result of Co2 emissions. Politicians know that popular policy wins votes. Big business (Oil and Gas companies) realizes that “carbon-capture” technologies and offsetting emissions influence popular opinion, and shareholders. I’ll bet some of them even believe they are the cause of it. Professional proponents of AGW who count on it’s acceptance (so-called scientists, lobbyists, policy makers) realize that without acceptance of the polemic, they have to find a new job.

Real scientists, many of whom have worked with the IPCC dispute the polemic, and many more have been ostracized by their peers for arguing science against the popular opinion. My opinion to add to this theory, is that the scientific community, and people in general, hate to be proven wrong.

Let us not forget that this is all theory. If you have no hard evidence, and no situation where a theory can be proven false, it is a belief. Theories must be falsifiable. That, in a nutshell, is science. Anything else is dogma.

I got on this rant because today, I read a comment that the recent earthquake off of Samoa could be a result of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming). An earthquake is not a weather-related event. Climate has no bearing whatsoever on the shifting of tectonic plates. If this is where we have arrived as a civilization, then I guess all bets are off.

If you have any scientific inquiry burning a searchlight in your cranium, then I implore you to use the best possible resources you have in exploring the issue and the science, before that deceitful telemarketer calls. Feel free to come up with your own theory. And remember the Aral Sea next time you pour yourself a glass of water.




5 responses

3 01 2012

i dont get hows this cause and effect

17 03 2012
fred hander

if you actually read it all you will see and you should understand it
its really simple

17 03 2012
fred hander

wow this is really good info

9 09 2012

its interesting but 2 much 2 read lol 🙂

9 11 2012

Thank you for this post!

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