The Soviet Union apparently considered the Aral to be "nature's error", and a Soviet engineer said in 1968 that "it is obvious to everyone that the evaporation of the Aral Sea is inevitable"
Humans are the most destructive living creatures on Earth. We invade every corner of the Earth and sometimes horribly destroy our environments. In the worst of cases every living creature including fellow people are affected by our actions. War is not the worst case as we only slaughter each other for utterly stupid and evil reasons. Let me tell you about the biggest man made ecological disaster ever.
When I was still in primary school I was fascinated with the Caspian Sea, Aral Sea and Lake Baikal. They had the charm of an oasis in a desert. Sadly the Aral Sea is now a utter catastrophe. The worst thing is stupid communist Soviets are to be blamed.
The problem started when the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers feeding the Aral Sea had their water diverted for cotton production in 1918. There were no real problem until the 1960s when cotton production and water usage of the rivers doubled. Thus, with most of the sea's water supply had been diverted, and in the 1960s the Aral Sea began to shrink. From 1961 to 1970, the Aral's sea level fell at an average of 20 cm a year; in the 1970s, the average rate nearly tripled to 50–60 cm per year, and by the 1980s it continued to drop, now with a mean of 80–90 cm each year.
Here we can see the dramatic shrinking of the sea.
Here how parts of the former Aral Sea looks like now. It's very, very sad. The higher ground use to be Aral's shore.
Even before the sea started to dry up the Soviets were starting to pollute Aral with their cotton fertiliser and industrial complexes. The Soviet Union apparently considered the Aral to be "nature's error", and a Soviet engineer said in 1968 that "it is obvious to everyone that the evaporation of the Aral Sea is inevitable". Therefore, nobody in the Soviet Union gave two hoots about the Aral. Into the height of the Cold War weapons testing further poisoned the sea. By 1987 commercial fisheries also collapsed when the submerged part of Aral became to salty because of the shrinking sea.
Today the toxic legacy continues. Desert winds continually blow clay and salt (polluted) from the dry Aral seabed unto surrounding areas. Respiratory disease and cancer are all too common in those areas. The people have to suffer from the mistakes from the Soviet's past wrongs. Children paying for the mistakes of their ancestors.
What hope do you o'great Aral? From the fourth biggest inland body of water into sad puddles as remnants of your former glory.
~multum in parvo~