The world is changing and Bolivia lost a lake to climate change. The second largest water lake in Bolivia, Lake Poopo, dried up completely and it has greatly affected the Bolivian local population and the surrounding ecosystem.
Alongside the lake, thousands of livelihoods evaporated too. There were a lot of people that depended on that lake in order to survive. And there were fish and other animals that lived in it that are now gone forever because of the lake’s total evaporation.
The main culprit for this is climate change. Because of the ongoing changes that occur in the environment, the El Niño phenomenon was more aggressive than ever before. This is mostly caused by the greenhouse gas effect that raises the temperatures and causes an accelerated glacier melt.
It’s a butterfly effect. Fossil fuels are burned all around the world which leads to an accumulation of carbon dioxide way higher than average levels. The carbon dioxide then attracts heat and produces a rise in the average temperature level. The increased warmth causes the polar ice caps to break and melt in a rhythm far more accelerated than in the last millions of years since the planet escaped the Ice Age and temperatures started to rise. The melting glaciers bring a bigger flow of cold water and the currents produced when the two waters combine give birth to the El Niño.
Because it is set at an altitude above sea level of 12,000 feet, the lake that was found on the Andean plains was always susceptible to changes in the climate. There have been instances in which the lake dried up and then managed somehow to fill itself up again. But scientists say this is no longer a possibility and the evaporation is irreversible.
Because the water that remained in the lake represents the last 2 percent out of the total level it once had, over 75 percent of the species that lived in it disappeared. Because Bolivia lost a lake to climate change, the government had to offer humanitarian aid to 3250 people that depended on it in order to survive.
Climate change may be the main culprit, but it’s not the only one. Another reason for the lake drainage is excessive mining. According to some of the villagers the companies that mined the area had diverted water from the lake on a regular basis since 1982.
Bolivia lost a lake to climate change and a few thousands of people that were obligated by the circumstances to immigrate to neighboring countries.
Image source: www.nasa.gov