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Earth Science

Aral Sea May Recover; Dead Sea Needs a Lifeline 131

An anonymous reader writes "It's a tale of two seas. The drying up of the Aral Sea is considered one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in history, but the northern sector of the sea, at least, is showing signs of life. A dam completed in 2005 has increased the North Aral's span by 20 percent, and birds, fish, and people are all returning to the area. Meanwhile, the Dead Sea is still in the midst of precipitous decline, since too much water is being drawn out of the Jordan River for thirsty populations and crops. To keep the sea from shrinking more, scientists are pushing an ambitious scheme called the 'Red-Dead conduit,' which would channel huge amounts of water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. However, the environmental consequences of such a project may be troubling."
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Aral Sea May Recover; Dead Sea Needs a Lifeline

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  • Re:If not us, who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @03:21AM (#31965314)
    The Dead Sea is a major tourist attraction, and likely host to a whole lot of life forms you don't find just anywhere; you know, because it's loaded with more salt than any other body of water.
  • Re:If not us, who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @03:54AM (#31965456)
    I'm also fairly sure that we don't know about every type of bacteria (since they're alive too; "life" doesn't even remotely mean "just plants and animals and things average folk might call interesting") present in the entire sea, nor do we know all of the processes and adaptations that those organisms use to survive; it's almost as valuable a resource as the extreme conditions found in deep underwater volcanoes.
  • by Surasanji ( 938753 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:08AM (#31965498) Journal
    The Dead Sea is of great economic importance to Israel. Tourism, sale of products containing the salt or mud of the dead sea all bring money into a country with almost zero natural resources. But, this is a problem that comes not just from the using of the Jordan river, but a number of other rivers as well- Ein Gedi, a freshwater spring isn't far away from the Dead Sea and its water is used as drinking water (And a popular bottled water!) inside Israel. All the 'sweet water' has been diverted in Israel, as it has in most desert places. As a result, only salty water is being diverted to the Dead Sea. This means, of course, that the sea is shrinking. The Canal from the red sea is not new- I've heard talk of that since 2006, at least, when I was in Israel last. Israel, however, has some of the brightest minds in the world. I'm hoping they'll come up with a great way to make this work.
  • Re:If not us, who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:33AM (#31965588)
    I definitely view that as a resource worth preserving.

    Sure; but the human population in the region is MORE worth preserving. If a choice must be made, bye-bye bacteria. Hopefully, a solution can be found that accommodates both.
  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:37AM (#31965606)
    Your lack of perspective is hardly the article's failure.
  • Re:If not us, who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:41AM (#31965616)
    If it comes to that choice, you surely are right. But, goddamnit, for what did we invent science and engineering, if not to avoid that choice?
  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @05:42AM (#31965804)
    Well, all that water used to provide high quality fish protein for you, before it dried up. Now the rotten hulks of your fishing boats are decaying in a desert. It used to provide a decent climate for your crops, while now there are dust storms covering a land below which the water table is rapidly sinking. You are right in viewing the lakes as resources, and the Aral lake is a prime example how to squander such a resource for very little short-term gain.
  • by pydev ( 1683904 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @06:10AM (#31965902)

    The Dead Sea is being ruined because people divert water from its natural inflows for agricultural use. Since they are destroying it, let them pay for fixing it.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @06:52AM (#31966018) Homepage

    A large contribution to drying of Aral Sea is that water which "should" get to it is used in an incredibly wasteful manner - the irrigation systems are in horrible condition, for example. Plus you know, drying of Aral exposed all the toxic stuff we usually dump into water (and which is relativelly stable and harmless in the bottom mud or dissolved in large quantity of water) to the work of wind; dust storms there are toxic.

    Oh well, just an "unintended consequence" of progress, like with global warming. Here, similarly to irrigation systems mentioned, we could be much more effective too; and think about it...look around you - how much stuff in the room you're in comes at least partially from oil (in my room, virtually everything...); oil is an insanely valuable resource. And what we do with most of it? Burn it!

  • Re:If not us, who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@fredshom[ ]rg ['e.o' in gap]> on Saturday April 24, 2010 @01:44PM (#31968156) Homepage

    I'm fairly sure there is no life in the Dead Sea outside of small amounts of bacteria. That's why it's called the Dead Sea. The salt content prevents life from living there.

    There's quite a bit of life in the form of a fair number of tourists which are quite important to the area (on both banks) which apart from that is quite a hellhole (an interesting one to visit though if you ever go in the area).

    The Dead sea is more than 400m below sea level and there are huge temperature extremes in the area which gets very little precipitations and has few springs. It's a great natural wonder and definitely worth a few days for it's ruins, it's fauna and the vista, but really not a great place to live.

  • by StrategicIrony ( 1183007 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:10PM (#31969002)

    This is a bit akin to saying.

    "I have proof God doesn't exist. See, his priests are assholes! That proves it!"

    While you might be right about Al Gore, it doesn't make the initial claim any less probable.

  • Re:If not us, who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by I(rispee_I(reme ( 310391 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:47PM (#31969280) Journal

    To provide that choice. :)

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson