Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What loosing the Aral Sea tells me about Climate Change

There are LOTS of folks running around these days denying that humans can impact Earth’s climate. Some of them are corporate shills – oil company publicists and George Will leap to mind. Others are just not scientifically literate – which is not surprising given how undereducated we all really are.

Yet good science marches on, and continues to document the ways in which we are intent on destroying our world. We divert whole rivers (for instance) to grow crops in places that we shouldn’t. Doing so impacts water quality and availability, as well as driving sweeping regional climate changes.

“Humans have been doing that for millennia” the deniers will respond “so why worry?” Well, as these images from NASA shows us, the Aral Sea – if you hit play you get a run through of the dry-up from the last decade – is now all but gone. Dried up by diversion for irrigation. By humans. In 50 years. I'm 38, so this has happened basically in my life-time. This means that a once robust in-land sea, which supported trade, fisheries, and provided for things like views, and a place to stop and set a spell, is now gone. Even if the water were all put back tomorrow (and it won’t be), there is little hope the sea could be rebuilt.

So the next time you hear someone on Fox News, or in the Washington Post, deny that climate change is the result of human action, stop and ask yourself this – if humans can deliberately dry up a sea to grow crops, why can’t we destroy the earth’s climate? The science says we can, and are. I just hope we stop before more of the Earth looks like this, or it will be way too late.

H/T Chris Rowan @ Highly Allochthonous

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