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.

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