Climate Change Is Drying Up One of The World's Largest Lakes
By Emily Johnson
“When I started fishing I only used a raft,” says John Mame. That was 12 years ago. Now he serves as chairman for the Impressa Beach Management Unit, which regulates the fish markets.
“Then from there I got a boat, some many nets, I got my crew members. Then from there, I was able to put my children in school. But now, problem. No water, few water, yeah? No fish. You go to the lake, no fish. I don’t know where they are.”
He laughs, looking downward. “Maybe there are thieves, what what, I don’t know.”
An 180-mile shining ribbon that cuts neatly across northwestern Kenya, Lake Turkana is a vital source of life for more than 1.2 million people. It occupies an arid region bordering Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia that is famously known as the “cradle of mankind,” because the oldest known fossils of early humans were unearthed there.
But the lake—once so vast that some still know it as the Jade Sea—is disappearing. A combination of global warming and water resources projects have caused the inland sea to shrink. And according to paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey, it's already too late to save it."
“It’s going the way of the Aral Sea,” Leakey said at a press conference in Nairobi in November, referring to the dried-up lake that straddled Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before the rivers that fed it were siphoned for agriculture. The current head of the Kenya Wildlife Service and the leader of the team that discovered the “Turkana Boy” skeleton in 1984, Leakey knows the Turkana region well and has been warning of this for years.
“It’s too late to be talking of this now,” he said. “The dam is built. It’s done.”
According to a Human Rights Watch report released in October, Lake Turkana is suffering under a deadly two-pronged assault. Climate change is driving up temperatures, which increases evaporation, and changing precipitation patterns even as development projects across the border in Ethiopia are diverting water from the Omo River, which supplies 90% of the lake’s water."
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"Already too late to save it." Will that be our epitaph?
This article shows the essence of what climate change is doing to our world. For me, it shows the moral and ethical price we are all also paying. Just how upset would you be to see this entire culture borne in what is known as the cradle of civilization go extinct? In the end, it is our respect for Earth and these cultures that will decide our answers to that question. Our choices show our character. To allow these cultures to die out shows a dark side of humanity that truthfully tears at my soul.
I can't express how important it is for you to read this article and look at the pictures... and not just read it, but put yourself in the place of these desperate people who are doing all they can to preserve their lives and culture against an insidious enemy that so many of us in the West still take for granted.
The need for education regarding climate change is crucial in Africa and related to that is accountability for water diverted away from people who need it. Dams only cause problems related to water flow and environmental/agricultural damage and in essence create the very gases we need to reign in to mitigate the droughts being experienced in almost 40% of this world. The people of this region need alternate ways to create electricity such as solar power. It is imperative in order to maintain equality in water distribution and to help ensure that levels do not go any lower.
How much more of this will have to be reported on before we get it? This is a global catastrophe in the making unless we act now in order to provide developing countries with alternate energy sources to lift pressure off of water resources! Also, overpopulation and education that seeks to address this crisis at the roots needs to be discussed seriously. When is the world going to tackle this on a level that truly addresses the underlying causes as a whole instead of just putting band aids on it- and that includes the UN. We are making our planet unsustainable for human life.
Shouldn't that be enough to know to move us along a bit faster?
Lake Chad Is Dying
My entry from eight years ago.
African Mapping Highlights Risk Of Drought and Flooding
My entry from nine years ago.
It isn't as if we didn't know about this.