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Fraser
2003-Jul-29, 04:34 PM
SUMMARY: A new image taken by the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite shows how much the Aral Sea has evaporated. Located in Central Asia, the Aral Sea used to be the fourth largest lake in the world, but rivers that feed the lake were diverted for cotton agriculture. It's now half its former surface area and one-quarter its original volume and continuing to shrink. The picture was taken using the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument which has a resolution of 300 metres.


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philip slater
2003-Jul-29, 11:10 PM
How about launching a campaign for the restoration of the Aral Sea? This would be a really useful small-scale wet run for the medium term project of restoring water and an atmosphere to the surface of Mars.

Philip Slater

UK-NISA

Fraser
2003-Jul-30, 12:54 AM
If you check out the original NASA story, the Russians were thinking of doing it by channeling water from Siberian rivers. At this point the larger lake is assured of drying up, which the smaller one can probably be saved.

philip slater
2003-Jul-30, 02:26 AM
Yep, thanks for the pointer. Been to the news source on the ESA site. Essential reading for all those who say we shouldn't do space until we've sorted out all of this planet's problems, and also all those who say 'hey, let's do both'. Here's a short sample:

For local people the results have been disastrous. The Aral Sea's retreating shoreline has left ports landlocked and boats stranded on dry sand. Commercial fishing was forced to halt twenty years ago. The few remaining fishermen commute by car to the water's edge. The waters that remain grow increasingly saline so only salt-resistant fish imported from elsewhere can endure them. Wildlife habitats have been destroyed and communities find themselves without clean water supplies.
The retreat of the waters has also altered the regional microclimate. Winters are colder and the summers hotter. Each year violent sandstorms pick up at least 150,000 tonnes of salt and sand from the dried-up lakebed and transport it across hundreds of kilometres.
The sandstorms are tainted with pesticide residue and have been linked to high regional rates of respiratory illnesses and certain types of cancer. The salty dust does harm to livestock pastures and has even been linked with melting glaciers up in the distant Pamir Mountains, on the Afghanistan border.

Going to the item reveals all you need to know: It wasn't the Russians who turned this part of the earth’s surface into a grotty desert littered with rusting boats and former fish processing plants. It was the former USSR and the geniuses of Soviet central planning.

So it shouldn't just be left to Russia to have to sort it out and put it right.

It can be done, putting back the whole Aral Sea, not just the preservation of a decorative token lake in the middle of the latest man-made wasteland.

The simplest steps are for UT forums to ask The Mars Society to talk to NASA, ESA and other space agencies and then jointly talk to the Russian space agency about supporting them as project leaders and together to put out a request for proposals to reverse the process in less than say ten years and get it back to where it was in twenty.

The proposals will need to be evaluated, costed and then one selected and implemented. It is relatively a much smaller project than building the pyramids or the great wall of China were in days of old or staging an average size mini-war nowadays. Just the right size of project for developing the skills needed to sort out Mars and then Venus and the rest of the currently barren bits of our immediate locality.

Philip

philip slater
2003-Jul-30, 11:41 PM
I have just encountered a useful article in New Scientist all about shifting relatively large amounts of fresh water about the planet. Trouble is, at first glance it seems to be heavily reliant on 19th Century concepts, rather like the late USSR.

The point in having the space community undertake the planning of the restoration of the Aral Sea would be as a technology demonstrator for some 21st Century thinking.

Philip

Fraser
2003-Jul-31, 03:37 AM
The political issues associated with that are enormous. There's a whole cotton industry now reliant on the irrigation waters.

Josh
2003-Jul-31, 05:30 AM
Then perhaps the cotton industry should pay. The cotton industry is causing problems like this world wide. What ever happened to duty of care?

Fraser
2003-Jul-31, 06:44 AM
I'm not saying they shouldn't pay, just that someone's got to ask them to stop their business... and pay.

Josh
2003-Jul-31, 09:13 AM
You give me their phone number ... I'll call and ask them.

philip slater
2003-Jul-31, 02:26 PM
I have two ideas relating to possible ways to unpick the cotton problem. One is to follow the outline proposed course of action for a campaign for the restoration of the Aral Sea and the improvement of the economy of the region mentioned above.
The simplest steps are for UT forums to ask The Mars Society to talk to NASA, ESA and other space agencies and then jointly talk to the Russian space agency about supporting them as project leaders and together to put out a request for proposals to reverse the process in less than say ten years and get it back to where it was in twenty.

All that would need to be done now would be for the quality control department to make a note that the final Brief for the Request For Proposals issued under the leadership of the Russian Space Agency should include a clause requiring the overall economic improvement of the region by say a factor of ten within the lifetime of the project, and should not omit the provision of alternate income for former cotton farmers and traders while more effective means of getting a living are being put in place for those who would prefer a lifestyle change from cottonpicking.

The second idea is for the World Bank to fund a joint venture scheme with a suitable African state to produce and market chocolate covered cotton (concept credit to Milo Minderbender, Catch 22, Joseph Heller, pub unknown).

This is the sort of grand scheme that should appeal to them, with bags of nostalgia for the good old days of providing soft in the head loans for the building of roads through the Amazon rain forest so that it could be turned into semi-arid pampas for cattle ranching.

Philip