The Quiet Chernobyl: NASA Releases Shocking Pictures Of The Loss Of The Aral Sea

1412079277000-aralThese pictures from NASA are being called “the quiet Chernobyl.” It is the Aral Sea as seen in 2000 and as seen this year. The massive decline of water levels is particularly evident from the black line showing the shoreline in the 1960s. In the United States and other cities, the world is facing a water crisis that is being given relatively low amount of attention. However, pictures like these show vividly our self-destructive impact on the environment.


The once vast central Asian lake was devastated during the Soviet period due to a water diversion project in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Now here is the shocker stat: the Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world. It now hold less than 10% of its original water volume.

The destruction of the lake created in 2000 two separate lakes known the Small and Large Seas. Within 12 months, however, the southern lake was gone. Fisheries and other business have collapsed and the blowing dust from the exposed lakebed is now a health hazard due to the agricultural chemicals that polluted the lake. It has changed the local weather — the loss of the moderating water mass has made the winters and summers harsher.

These pictures are the work of the team for the Terra satellite studies.

It is a cautionary tale for all countries, including this one, of the cascading problems associated with environmental pollution and industrial overuse.

138 thoughts on “The Quiet Chernobyl: NASA Releases Shocking Pictures Of The Loss Of The Aral Sea”

  1. The failure of Soviet style economic planning in pictures. The former USSR diverted the two major rivers feeding the basin as part of a farmland irrigation project. This is what’s left.

    1. maxcat06 – I don’t think Tweety Bird has the gravitas to serve the country. 😉 Seems kind of a bird brain to me.

  2. maxcat, Giants/Nats! I think 5 game series are the best. Those aforementioned KC years were incredible 5 game series between the Royals and Yanks 1976-78. Royals lost all 3 years in heartbreaking fashion. We were @ every game in KC. There is more intensity in a 5 game series. It is certainly fair, more fair than a single or even 3 game series. And, more intense than the 7 gamers. This is my favorite round. I like the Nat’s but the Giants scare me. I think the Nat’s would have matched up better w/ the Bucs. No Matt Cain is nice, though!

    1. Nick – I’m excited. The Nats have actually done better against the Giants, even with a 2-year running average, and with Bumgarner having pitched last night, that means he won’t pitch in games 1 or 2. The 5 game series are better. I was just glad we didn’t have to play either of the 1 game wild card games. No Matt Cain, no Andrew McCutchen…it’s all good. I really like KC. I hope they win the division, and maybe the league.

  3. DBQ:

    No, I had not heard of the National Legislature initiative. I’m intrigued. I especially like how each legislator would only get paid $1,000, and districts would be split up into micro districts. The problem with the huge counties of CA is that each has wildly different characteristics, from urban to farming, but it’s always the urban dominant in policy.

    I really want campaign to be reformed, including Unions. They are just as bad as any big corporation, forcing each employee to donate to the Democratic Party, and buying politicians. I want mandatory political donations abolished in unions, and the entire campaign finance overhauled so no politician owes anyone when they go to office. They should only be answerable to their constituents.

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304773104579270652871349262

  4. The people who are deriving a direct benefit from the water should be paying for the water and for the project to replenish the water to the Aral Sea. Looking at the pictures, many might note many beached vessels, those vessels are probably fishing boats no longer in use. The farmers usurped the fisherman’s livelihood. Globally, water is a resource, its almost shocking that it is, but water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. 71% of the Earth’s surface is water, of the rest 1/3 of the balance meets the definition of desert, obviously some portion is near desert/arid…..

  5. Water supplies in the US aren’t owned by the US. France owns it.

    A French company, Suez, owns my water supply……Here’s the backround. Year is 1999.

    PARIS — Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux moved to buy out its U.S. municipal water-distribution affiliate, United Water Resources Inc., in a $1 billion deal that strengthens the
    French company’s position as the world’s leading water-services provider and caps a three-month, $5.5 billion shopping spree for U.S. water companies.

    Combined with Suez’s acquisitions of Pittsburgh-based Calgon Corp. for $415 million and Nalco Chemical Co., Naperville, Ill., for $4.1 billion, the United acquisition makes Suez the overall leader in the U.S. water market.

  6. max, I think I’ve read all his books, October 1964 being my favorite. I watched the game last night w/ nostalgia. We lived in KC 1975-82. Those were the great days of Royal’s baseball. We would sit in general admission, left field, $1.50. We went to ~50 games a season. No kids then! Got to see Brett play in his prime. Saw him steal home against the Rangers in the bottom of the 9th to win the game. A walk off steal of home! And, he just had average speed. Clint Hurdle was supposed to be the next Brett, but just turned out to be an average player. Much better manager. Love to watch him chew that gum in the Pirate’s dugout. He doesn’t start until ~3rd inning, but then he chews like a shark eating a walrus. Those jaw muscles are ripped!!

    1. Nick, I just finished October 1964. It’s interesting in that it was one of the declines of the Yankee dominance prior to Steinbrenner. You really lived in KC in a great era. The game last night was amazing; poor fielding on both teams, and so-so pitching with far too many wild pitches, but KCs base stealing won the night! I’m just starting the Pirates/Giants game, and Hurdle is about to chew up a storm. I hope it’s as good as last night’s game. After all, these all affect my Nats!!

  7. DBQ and Karen,
    Have you heard about the Neighborhood Legislature initiative?

    “The Neighborhood Legislature is a historical reform initiative that aims to reverse the erosion of democracy in California by transferring political power away from super wealthy special interest groups and back into the hands of the people. We accomplish this by revolutionizing the state legislature’s electoral system, adapting it to meet the unique challenges facing a 21st century republic.

    We believe that the influence of big money in politics is potentially the greatest threat facing our republic today. Our leaders are forced to rely on donations from super-wealthy special interest groups in order to get elected. This gives these groups an inordinate amount of power over our government leaders–more power than even the citizens who vote them into office.

    Fortunately, we have a solution: the Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act. This ballot initiative will reform the California state legislature’s electoral architecture to get special interests out of politics and to return power to the people.”

    http://www.neighborhoodlegislature.com/

  8. maxcat, The first step in ridding us of the duopoly is to allow a “None of the Above” box to check on every ballot. That will get people out and engage them in the process. Dems would rather see Rep win and Rep rather see Dems win than to have a 3rd party emerge. That scares the crap outta the duopoly.

    1. Nick –

      David Halberstam is one of my favorite authors. I’m in the process of devouring all of his baseball books. As to write-in candidates, two years ago Paul Broun was running unopposed here in Athens, Ga. A pretty good number of voters did a write-in for Charles Darwin. Sure, he was dead, not a citizen and certainly out of our district, but he was still a better choice. He did manage to get quite a few votes.

      1. maxcat06 – Mickey Mouse is my go-to candidate when the others are bad. 🙂 Who could not appreciate Mickey?

  9. @Annie

    That’s totally understandable; I’d load up a truck for that! I also have to admit that I’ve bought a bottle or two if I’m on the road and have stopped at a convenience store, but I still know many who buy it on a regular basis. I don’t pretend to be perfect, but I get discouraged.

  10. Maxcat, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any Democrat here ever say the Democratic Party was perfect, have you?

    1. @Annie

      Nope, I know that I’ve never claimed that the Dems were perfect. I just generally prefer their views. When I lived in Houston I regularly voted Republican for Sheriff, as the man on that ticket was far superior.

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