July 2016– BOLIVIA – A livelihood in Bolivia’s high plains has suddenly disappeared, and a population that relied on the dried-up lake for centuries suddenly became refugees of climate change with nowhere to go. The civilization that once thrived around Lake Poopó was forced to leave when the waterway dwindled, dying a slow death that was blamed on a lethal combination of drought, changing climate and failures by the government to keep it alive. Sitting more than 12,000 feet above sea level, Poopó shrunk for years before vanishing entirely just months ago. “The lake was our mother and our father,” Adrián Quispe, a fisherman who lives in Llapallapani, told the Times. “Without this lake, where do we go?”
Over the past two years, many of the indigenous Uru-Murato people who lived in the area went to work in the lead mines or salt flats 200 miles from the lake, the Times report also said. At this point, fewer than 650 Uru-Murato still live in the three villages where they once flourished. The saline lake spanned as much as 1,200 square miles, but its shallow nature allowed it to evaporate rather quickly, especially during El Niño years. At the end of last year – a year in which El Niño was very strong – Lake Poopó was declared drained.
Scientists have also placed some of the blame on officials who made several missteps when they had the chance to preserve the lake. Researcher Lisa Borre told National Geographic that the Bolivian government could’ve done more to manage the water supply and enact plans to keep the lake alive, but they failed. The result of those failures, paired with the impacts of climate change, was the permanent loss of Bolivia’s second-largest lake. “This is a picture of the future of climate change,” German glaciologist Dirk Hoffman told the Associated Press. –Weather Channel
“Earth’s stability is collapsing…and one by one, the biospheric processes regulating life itself are going awry. These are early characteristics of climate shock and are indications that even more ominous changes are yet to unfold. The fact that Earth’s systems are crashing in concert (climate, biodiversity and ecosystems, atmosphere, aquifers, and geological processes) is evidence geological change is accelerating on a planetary scale…we may not all be on the same page now that change is underway on planet Earth but sooner or later, we’ll all be in the same boat as environmental refugees from the change that will inevitably neutralize biological conditions on the planet.” –The Extinction Protocol by Alvin Conway, page 9, 2009 (1st edt)