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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A re-birth of the Aral Sea in central asia...


AKESPE, Kazakhstan – Standing on the shore under the relentless Central Asian sun, Badarkhan Prikeyev drew on a cigarette and squinted into the distance as one fishing boat after another returned with the day's catch.

Until recently, this spot where the fish merchant was standing, in a man-made desert at the edge of nowhere, represented one of the world's worst environmental calamities.

Now fresh water was lapping at his boots, proclaiming an environmental miracle — the return of the Aral Sea.

The Aral Sea was once the world's fourth-largest body of fresh water, covering an area the size of Ireland. But then the nations around it became part of the Soviet Union. With their passion for planned economics and giant, nature-reversing projects, the communists diverted the rivers that fed the inland sea and used them to irrigate vast cotton fields. The result: The Aral shrank by 90 percent to a string of isolated stretches of water.

The catastrophe "is unprecedented in modern times," says Philip Micklin, a geography professor at Western Michigan University who has studied the Aral Sea for years.

What an amazing story. The rebirth of a sea in an era where seas and lakes are disappearing from this planet.

Read more:Acknowledgements: Associated Press writer,Peter Leonard.

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