Friday, May 29, 2009

The Death of a Lake or How Not to do Agriculture.

An amazing series of pictures of the Aral Sea appear on the Earth Observatory of NASA.

The pictures show how the Aral Sea (actually a salt-water lake) has dramatically reduced in size over time.

So why did this happen? Well, in all of Stalin's wisdom he decided that the Soviet Union should grow cotton in the desert! Of course, cotton uses a lot of water, so they needed to irrigate it and did so by with drawing water from the two rivers which feed the lake, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya.

This is an example of how disasterous doing agriculture without an proper thought about the environment can be.

And by the way this is not due to failed socialism or such. A similar use of heavily irrigated water to feed a dry area is used in California to grow huge amounts of vegetables. It accounts for 80% of California's water usage.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I just attended the 2009 Entech exhibition, which is an environmental technology show held in Bangkok, Thailand annually. My first reaction to the show when I walked into the exhibition hall was "how tiny". It was one of the smallest exhibits in the ten years I have been attending and half the size of last year's.

By the way if you think the reason for the decline in exhibitors is the recession, think again. The previous week was Intermach a machinery exhibition. It was three
times the size of Entech and about the same as the previous year.

For all the talk of lately about the environment, global warming, energy, etc. this exhibition did not show it. It makes me wonder if green washing is not even worse than we thought.

As the exhibition claims to be the most important environment show in Southeast Asia (even though almost no exhibitors are from SE Asia outside of Thailand), I also wonder what this implies on the issue of sustainable development.