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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 folder4. Creeping environmental problems in the Aral Sea basin
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentIntroduction to the notion of creeping environmental problems
View the documentCharacteristics of CEPs
View the documentCEPs and the Aral region
View the documentConcluding comments and a call for research
View the documentAcknowledgement
View the documentReferences

Concluding comments and a call for research

Clearly, we already possess a considerable amount of information about the Aral Sea basin and the various physical processes of environmental change and degradation. Signs of change were appearing everywhere throughout the first 20 years of the Aral Sea problem (1960-1980): wind erosion, salt-laden dust storms, destroyed fish spawning grounds, the collapse of the fisheries, secondary salinization, increased salinity of Sea water, waterlogging, disruption of navigation, the likely division of the Sea into separate parts, the need for extra-basin water resources to stabilize the Sea level, the loss of wildlife in the littoral areas, the large reduction of streamflow from the two main tributaries, a change in the regional climate, the disappearance of pasturelands, and so forth. Each one of these adverse environmental changes was mentioned in Soviet scientific literature at some point in the 1960s and 1970s.

It would be very instructive for scientific and societal reasons to focus on identifying and analysing various thresholds for awareness of and responses to each of these creeping environmental changes. The findings of such research can be used to aid national and international decision makers to develop more effective coping mechanisms for existing Caps to avert the development of future Caps in the region. Those findings can be used to improve political as well as societal responses to Caps not only in the Aral basin but elsewhere on the globe. One such effort of limited scope is presently under way (Glantz, 1998), but a larger, more comprehensive, and systematic effort is needed so that societies can identify and develop more effective response mechanisms to the creeping environmental changes that surround us.