Bronze 2016 Science / Environment

Aralkum - A man made desert

  • Prize
    Bronze in Science/Environment
  • Photographer
    Simone Tramonte

One of the planet's worst environmental disasters is technically ongoing with very little efforts to make people and government aware of it: since it involves the most important resource on Earth – water – its magnitude is even more overwhelming. The Aral Sea was once one of the largest lakes in the world. Since the surrounding areas were mostly desert, the Soviet government started to transform the environment by diverting the course of the two main rivers who fed the Aral, in order to grow cereals and cotton. The lake was doomed: thirty years later the surface of the water measured only one third of its original size. The fishing industry was destroyed. Unemployment and poverty changed the economy of the entire region. Today less than 10% of the lake surface is still visible.