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    Add as FriendAral Sea Disaster

    by: Rittik

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    1 : THE ARAL SEA One of the planet's worst environmental disasters
    2 : Abstract The pivot of my analysis concerns the dismal ecological catastrophe that centre's around the adjoining areas of Aral Sea, the world’s fourth largest inland lake As the theme rightly deals with the causes that led to the abrupt climate change of this region and the after effects of this change on the fragile climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forest and fisheries. I try to find out the causes that led to the complete extinction of the once prosperous and lucrative fishing industry here. It is not only a political blame game but something more than that.
    3 : Location The Aral Sea lies on the border of Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan, in Central Asia. It was once the world's 4th largest Inland sea. Steadily shrinking since the 1960s, after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet Union in the year 1991.
    4 : Location Fed by two rivers, the Amu Dar’ya and Syr Dar’ya. The fresh water from these two rivers held the Aral's water and salt levels in perfect balance. Summer temperatures rise to over 40oC. There is no outlet river.
    5 : The Problem The Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking & drying up. It had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes. The region consequent serious public health problems. Environmental issues associated with the basin’s drying. 1977 1989 2006
    6 : This is all that is left of what was the Earth’s fourth largest lake only 50 years ago. From NASA’s Earth Observatory
    7 : Aral region was taken from the Space Shuttle on August 6, 1985
    8 : Causes In one word – Cotton The Soviet central government decided to make USSR self-sufficient in cotton and increase rice production. Cotton, or “White Gold” become a major export today in Uzbekistan, is one of the world's largest exporters of cotton. The Fergana Valley became a huge cotton growing area.
    9 : Other Causes Political Instability arising due to border problems have been one of the key causes for political instability. Soviet Ministry of Defense held the sole authority of operation in the island as it was a chosen spot for the Red Army’s Scientific Medical Institute from 1952to1992. Weak constitutional machinery being used after Independence for maintenance. Strong North East Wind causes desertification. Annually 100 million tones of dust salt are blown away from the sea by these strong winds. An unhealthy mixture of poisonous fertilizers, agricultural chemicals and household wastes are the primary ingredients of these dust storms. Rapid increase in the saline content from 12% to 14% between 1971to 1975. By the late 1980’s the saline content reached 23% which damaged the eco structure in entirety.
    10 : Effects To make cotton grow in a desert large quantities of water are needed (Irrigation). Large dams were built across both rivers, and an 850-mile central canal with a far-reaching system of ‘feeder’ canals was created. After the construction of the irrigation ditches were completed, the water level has dropped by 40 feet and the volume has been reduced by 60 percent. This reduced the flow of water reaching the Aral Sea.
    11 :
    12 : Health Issues Chemicals and salts had contaminated the surface and ground water supplies. TB, Cancers, heart problems, asthma and blood diseases increased dramatically. Central Asia registers 88% of intravenous users among the HIV/AIDS cases. Strong desert winds also increase the evaporation rate of liquid agents.
    13 : Eco-systems disaster Result of this destruction the difference in the annual range of temperature has widened showing extreme conditions. The Climate changed from a warm temperate to that of an extreme temperature. Experienced a severe drop in water level, and its salt content increased Large areas of the former Aral Sea were reduced to barren lifeless salt plains.
    14 : Dying Fishing Industry Early 1980s, as indigenous fish, which provided the basis for the commercial fishery. All fresh-water species of fish that once lived in the Sea are now extinct. Because there was too much salt in the water it began to a water scarce desert zone. Fish processing factories closed or had to be supplied from outside areas.
    15 : Effects on Climate Due to the recession of the Aral Sea, the global climate change (the global warming). The wastes caused by human activities, are altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of green house gases. Higher concentrations of the most considerable greenhouse gases increase the greenhouse effect which results in the heating of the Aral sea’s surface.
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    17 : Perhaps the biggest problem has been a decline in the health of the local inhabitants. The chemicals have seeped into the local water supply causing a wide range of health problems such as cancer, tuberculosis, deformities in babies, liver & kidney failure, anaemia, lung disease & high infant mortality etc. Signing up for health care A TB sufferer Infant Mortality & childhood illnesses have increased.
    18 :
    19 : Solutions A dam was constructed across the Berg Strait allowing water levels in the North Aral Sea to increase. The International Aral Sea Rehabilitation Fund (IFAS) and 55 Muslim countries have raised funds to begin a range of programs to stabilize the ecosystem and improve water management. So far 800 large water-pipe systems have been installed, bringing fresh water to 29 settlements. In addition to this they have created hospitals, jobs and pension plans to assist those directly and indirectly affected by disease and unemployment. With US funding, the Agency for International Development has implemented two project: -A reverse osmosis plant at Dashhowuz in Turkmenistan -Chlorination facilities in the Amu Darya Delta MSF is implementing the UN DOTS programs to combat TB
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    21 : Conclusion A city that once was once a fishing port the boasting a proud fishing fleet during the Soviet era. Today, Muynak is a desert town. Better nutrition and health education have helped to save lives and improve livelihoods among TB sufferers. Such short-sighted projects may render economic benefit but can over the long term cause wider-ranging damage and problems for larger regions. The ecological effect has been disastrous and the economic, social, and medical problems for people in the region catastrophic to their way of life. The only reminders of the once thriving fishing activity are the rusting hulks of ships and an ancient fish plant.

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