Aral sea

Aral sea - Elena Fabbretti
Aral sea - Elena Fabbretti

Aral lake, between Kazakistan and Uzbekistan. This is what climate genocide looks like

South of the Aral Sea there’s the village of Moynaq and, to the north, there’s Aralsk, both decayed fishing villages that are now several kilometers away from the lake due to the waterretreat. There, a number of wrecks are strended, testifying the once-prosperous fishing activity. Both villages are tourism destination to witness one of the greatest man-made environmental disaster. The lake is located between Uzbekistan (in the territory of the autonomous republic of
Karakalpakstan) and Kazakhstan.

In the early 1960s, the government of the Soviet Union diverted the two rivers that flowed into the lake to irrigate the newborn vast cotton fields of the surrounding areas. This was part of the intensive cotton-growing plan of the Soviet regime, which aimed to make Russia one of the major exporters.

From 1960 to 1998 the area of the lake had been reduced by about 60% and its volume by 80%. In 1960 Lake Aral was the fourth largest lake in the world with an area of 68,000 km² and a volume of 1,100 km³, while since 1998 the area has been reduced to 28,687 km², sliding to the eighth position. On the other hand, what increased over the years, is the salinity of the lake as well as the pollution, due to the agricultural chemical runoff.

Since 1987, the lake has been divided into two distinct lakes, the north-side and the south-side, due to the continuous withdrawal of water.The environmental impact on the lake fauna has been devastating.

The wind that constantly carries the sand, salty and toxic to pollutants, has caused severe public health problems and respiratory and kidney diseases have a very high incidence on the local population.

Story and pic by our Rotten Trips reporter,  Elena Fabretti

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