NASA Photos: The Disappearance of the Aral Sea

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In a series of photos taken by NASA, you can observe the dramatic disappearance of the Aral Sea in a relatively short period - between 2000 and 2009. 

In a series of dramatic photos, NASA has been able to capture the disappearance of the Aral Sea from space. In the 1960's Russia diverted water from several major rivers to irrigation projects for growing cotton and other crops. The result has been the complete destruction of one what was once the fourth largest inland sea in the world.

Link - via google

From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by mrsmojorisin.


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Everyone here brought up good points and had thoughtful remarks. Seriously. I'm not being sarcastic. I understand there is a serious difference in scale when it comes to man's impact on the environment vs. natures own change of course. The dinosaurs did came to a rather abrupt end, and there were Mammoths that got frozen so quickly it was like someone shut the freezer door on them. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes strike without warning and have devastating effects also, but by in large, yes, we humans are really messing things up.

We've over fished the oceans, we've clear cut forests, we've polluted everything. So...um...well...where does that leave us? Anyone have a response to that question?

Yeah, this event was a disaster, yes we are shooting ourselves in the foot by destroying the world around us. We have the potential to shoot ourselves in the head too (thanks you nuclear arms race).

My point remains this. Species come and go and come and go. Regardless of our impact, life will survive. 100 million years from now this planet will be a very different place, and one large body of water drying up will have no effect on the planet's overall ecosystem. Does it suck now, especially for the people effected? Of course. But what's the real disaster?

The REAL story isn't that it happened. It's that world's most influential people don't really care. That's the real tragedy. This is just another step on our path of self destruction. You can do your small part and make yourself feel bigger by thinking you're "helping the planet" and "going green." But the truth is, we're a long ways off from stopping things like this. A lifetime of attempting to lessen our eco footprints will be undone by a government in the span of a day.

I think we actually need much larger "destructive" events to wake us up. Hopefully we'll all see a day when headlines actually point to stories like this rather than Paris Hilton. Which reminds me, I need to go see what else is on the Yahoo homepage today.
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Just so everyone is aware - that island that used to be in the middle of the Aral, which is now just a hill on a plain? It's called Vozrozhdeniya Island. It was a major Soviet biological warfare testing facility - meant to isolate the subjects from the mainland.

~]3
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Travis, what is "destruction", there are whole villages and commerce that was affected by the altering of the sea. To quote another article on this, the "event is not only fascinating, but it's a lesson to how quickly entire ecosystems (and the societies that rely on them) can collapse. The Aral sea was once surrounded by villages that relied on the Aral seas fisheries. Those towns are now all but deserted, and fishing boats sit on dry land."

There may be other benefits from diverting the water that may or may not be sustainable, but the diverting of the water did cause the destruction of the sea and the
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@Travis: It's a question of scale. The split of Pangaea took millions upon millions of years. Everest rose over millions of years. The last great ice age took place over tens of thousands of years. These are scales at which life can adapt, evolve, and maintain some sort of macro-equilibrium. The great cataclysms of today's changes in climate are occurring in the span of *decades.*

Will life, in some form, survive our onslaught? Certainly. Are we in the midst of a massive extinction event brought about in great measure by human activity? Also certainly. Do we face ecological catastrophe which endangers humankind as well? One would hope that we are adaptable enough to find a way to survive, but first we need to acknowledge that we are, in fact, the genesis of the problem before we can find a solution.
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