The most dramatic story is that of the Aral Sea. Its littoral states are Kazakstan and Uzbekistan, but its consequences spread far wider. This inland sea – once the second biggest in the world – has lost more than 70% of its water over the last 30 years mainly because its feeder rivers were used to irrigate the huge Soviet cotton crops of Central Asia. Now there’s a huge salt-bowl, full of pesticides with ghastly consequences for health, food-growing, etc. More than half the people living nearby have salt deposits in their bones. Miles away, in Tajikistan, babies are dying from drinking water straight from the cotton-irrigation channels. On the other hand, the Caspian Sea is rising fast washing away land and houses, and salinating the land. Go swimming here and you hit your feet on roofs…

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