Climate Change Claims a Lake, and an Identity By: Nicholas Casey

Summary of Article: Lake Poopó, Bolivia's second largest lake, is now just a dry, salty expanse. Even after surviving decades of water diversion and El Niño droughts, Lake Poopó basically disappeared. The lake was perched 12,140 feet above sea level in the dry Bolivian high plains. But, climate change is what topped it all off. Each decade, on average, since 1985 the lake warmed .41 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0.23 degrees Celsius.

Sadly, Lake Poopó is one of several lakes worldwide that are disappearing because of human causes. California’s Mono Lake and Salton Sea were both diminished by water diversions; lakes in Canada and Mongolia are jeopardized by rising temperatures. Generations of people had watched the water recede and return to the lake. It had almost become a predictable cycle. In the 1990s, a dry spell hit that evaporated the lake into three small ponds and destroyed the fisheries for several years. But the lake eventually returned to its previous size. The people that lived near the lake, called Uru, eventually adapted to living on and around it. They counted three distinct winds that could help or hurt: one from the west, another from the east, and a kind of squall from the north called the saucarí, which can sink boats. The surface of the lake had fallen so low that when the saucarí wind hit from the north, the gusts kicked up too much silt for the fish to survive. At this point, the people struggled to survive as did the wild life.

Analysis of Article: The content of this article is noteworthy because it is warning people what the future could be like, and is an example to how life's can be affected by global warming. People may be able to adjust to a lot of things, but not everyone can adjust to the abrupt upheaval climate change can and has caused. Many of the Uru people began joining a new global march of refugees fleeing not war or persecution, but climate change. Near the lake all of the flamingos lost their feathers and were rendered flightless. Many people used mirrors to cast sunlight in the birds’ eyes, making them fall asleep temporarily, easy prey. There were no other sources of food, their nets were useless without water. Not to mention the lost of jobs they faced. Since the fish died off in 2014, people were left to work in lead mines or salt flats up to 200 miles away. The rise of temperate really turned things upside down for these people.

My Big "Takeaway": I think it is quite fascinating that there are villages and towns disappearing around the world, and they are not being talked about. It is unreal how all those people’s lives were affected by global warming and how much that one lake had such a big impact. The impact is much bigger than people could imagine. People began dying, jobs were lost, people's culture and lifestyle slipped right in-between the palm of their hands.

The article immediately caught my attention by its picture of one man and an empty looking dessert, knowing it was once a lake. I hope to learn more about other lakes that are being or once were affected just like this one. I want to look more into how other lakes are vanishing, if it's because of winds or raising temperatures and so on.

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