Poof! There Goes Poopó
is was the second largest lake in Bolivia, and it’s as good as gone. With its demise, hundreds of families have lost their way of life, thousands of fish have died and 75 types of birds have left the region.
And yes, climate change was a factor on the now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t disappearing act, but it wan’t the only one. Aside from rising temperatures melted the glaciers that poured water into the lake, there are 100 mines that have been diverting water from the lake’s tributaries since 1982. What’s worse is that these mines have also contaminated what’s left of the lake with lead and cadmium causing the death of thousands of fish.
Many have blamed the government for not doing enough to preserve the lake in time, but that’s because the president, Evo Morales, remembers it drying up and coming back again, “My father told me about crossing the lake on a bicycle once when it dried up.”
Although the government has requested $141 million to treat the lake, Milton Pérez, a researcher at Universidad Técnica says, “I don’t think we’ll be seeing the azure mirror of Poopó again. I think we’ve lost it.”
Learn more about what’s happening with Lake Poopó from The New York Times here.