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close this bookCentral Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas (UNU, 1998, 203 pages)
close this folderPart II: The Aral Sea
close this folder5. the Aral Sea and socio-economic development
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe technical system of cotton monoculture
View the documentThe cotton swindle
View the documentEnvironmental problems and human health
View the documentThe problem of pesticide pollution
View the documentThe environment of the Aral Sea and international cooperation
View the documentThe future of Central Asia
View the documentRecommendations
View the documentReferences

Introduction

The states of Central Asia have once again appeared on the international stage, abandoning the 70-year experiment of Soviet socialism. What is happening there today is, as has happened since the dawn of history, also sure to decide the fate of humans. States in this region are facing a serious economic crisis. These states consist of more than 100 ethnic groups, possess large numbers of conventional and nuclear weapons, face Islamic countries to the south, and lie midway between China and Europe. Lack of economic progress could easily lead to serious conflicts within and between these countries.

In addition, Central Asia is facing serious environmental problems. These problems, mostly started in the early 1960s, head the list of global environmental problems in that their size and the difficulty of solving them are unparalleled elsewhere in the world. Many people, including leaders of the states, however, are more concerned about "business" than about sustainable development that meets the needs not only of the present generations but also of future ones. The transition to a market-oriented economy will take many years, but the victims of the environmental disruption are dying day by day and the people are suffering.

This chapter seeks to identify what kind of political and economic structure caused the environmental disruption, and to show that what lies behind the discrepancy between desire and reality is the same as what caused the environmental disruption.