Aral Sea no more

By Razib Khan | July 14, 2009 3:14 am

800px-AralShip.jpgBack in the early 1990s I remember stories about the incredible reduction in size and volume of the Aral Sea. With the collapse of the Soviet Union the environmental disasters caused by state “planning” were exposed for all to see, and the command system of the USSR was as good at managing environmental resources as it was any other resource. But it fell off my radar until I saw this piece in ScienceDaily, Declining Aral Sea: Satellite Images Highlight Dramatic Retreat. It’s rather mind-blogging that in 20 years a sea could disappear, but I guess its just a matter of basic water debits & credits. The Great Salt Lake is after all just a remnant of Lake Bonneville. Below a “before & after” satellite photo of the Aral Sea.



Comments (2)

  1. Oh wow…I knew the Aral Sea was drying up, but I had no idea it was dissapearing that fast. It seems insane (to a non-geographer at least) that so much water could just ‘dissapear’.

  2. sg

    “With the collapse of the Soviet Union the environmental disasters caused by state “planning” were exposed for all to see,”
    Did the Soviet leaders ever even apologize?
    I mean at least Barbara Boxer apologized for the 5.4 million cubic yards of waterlogged fly-ash containing arsenic, lead and beryllium, among other pollutants, that flooded into the Tennessee river, making it the largest environmental disaster of its kind in U.S. history.
    TVA is trying to mitigate the damage by spending $1 million a day on the cleanup.
    Except for lawmakers from states where it operates, Congress pretty much forgot TVA existed.
    California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer admitted as much in January. At a hearing on the Kingston spill, she apologized for ignoring the utility over the past two years — she is head of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which is supposed to provide
    oversight of TVA.
    TVA, as a federal corporation, is exempt from emergency response protocols required of government agencies. A nine-member board of presidential appointees oversees a chief executive officer who runs TVA’s day-to-day operations, but the board doesn’t answer to a cabinet official. In practice, TVA reports to no one.
    excerpted from
    Government seems a poor watchdog for the environment whether in the USSR, the USA or perhaps anywhere.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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