Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Global Warming Adding to Woes of Aral Sea, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 10 – An international conference held in St. Petersburg in November concluded that global warming and not just overuse of water from the two rivers that feed the sea is responsible for its current dire situation (casp-geo.ru/kratkoe-sankt-peterburgskoe-zayavlenie-ob-aralskom-more/).

            Scholars and other experts said that the sea has expanded and contracted in size as a result of climatic changes over the last 10,000 years. The sea is now closer to death than ever before both because of a new wave of global warming and because of massive use of water from the rivers feeding the sea for irrigation.

            “Global warming,” the conference said in a declaration, “in recent decades has begun to affect the water balance of the Aral Sea and it is predicted to become an important factor in the future. However, up to the presence, it is not the chief cause of the drying out of the Aral Sea.” Human use of water is.

            The consequences of the death of the sea for the peoples living nearby are enormous and horrific. But the only reasonable solutions, the participants in the conference said, is to make more efficient use of water in the region rather than hope for Siberian river diversion. That is too expensive and will take too long to solve the problem.

            Not all the participants agreed with these conclusions. Those from Uzbekistan called for restarting a discussion of Siberian river diversion because, they argued, there simply is no other way to save the sea. Its level is falling too rapidly and people in the region are suffering too much.  They argued that global warming would allow more water to be sent from Siberia.

            There was agreement at the meeting that speaking about the death of the Aral is “premature, although in the foreseeable future. The Aral Sea will not be as large as it was in the 1960s, but significant portions of the sea have been preserved.” That must be the basis for further work, the scholars and activists said.

            The meeting called for the creation of an International Committee of Intellectual Solidarity with the Aral Sea to coordinate work with the International Foundation for the Support of the Aral and to promote national days of the Aral Sea beginning this year to attract attention and give hope to the peoples of the region.

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