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Aral Sea Dries Up, Creates Desert

Aral Sea - treehugger.comThe fourth-largest lake in the world - the Aral Sea - has dried up by 90 percent, leaving a large, salty desert between Kazakhstan and Ukbekistan, says Anadolu news agency.

Aral Sea treehugger.comThe size of Southern California, the Aral Sea is believed to have dried up because of human-enduced environmental changes. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union diverted the flow of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers towards cotton fields. Those two rivers used to feed the Aral Sea, replenishing its waters, but once its life-force was cut off, the lake began to dry up.

In 1960, the Aral Sea was 68,000 square kilometres (according to Wikipedia) and by 1998 it had dropped to 28,687 square kilometres. It is now 12,100 square metres with a water volume of 110 cubic kilometres and its deepest point is 24 metres.

The environmental disaster has turned what was once a fertile, water-filled area into a vast desert that is empty except for abandoned ships and boats stranded surrealistically on the sand.

In Cyprus, we have the good news that there has been so much rain that we should have a surplus of 20 percent in our water reserves. Our happiness over this news should be tempered by the thought that if we do not respect our water supply and treat it carefully, it could easily disappear - just like the Aral Sea.

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