9-1-2016 The Tragic Story of Lake Poopó

1991

1991

1991
2006
2016

What do you expect when you think of a lake? Well, chances are it’s water. Now tell me, what comes with water? Fish! And with fish? People! Good, now what happens if that lake dries up? Without water, there are no fish. With no fish, there is no food. With no food, there are no people.

Sadly, what was once Bolivia’s second largest lake is no more. This, unfortunately, is our fault. Aside from drought, the lake’s main source of water has been slowly moved to other areas for mining and farming. Although the lake has dried up before, this time it’s been almost a year since it dried up completely in January so there isn’t much hope for it to come back any time soon.

The emptiness of Lake Poopó has resulted in problems for the communities that lived off of it. The main source of profit for these communities was from fishing which allowed for trade and money. Without fish to sell, these communities will have no choice but to move out or dry up with the lake. Sadly, many people have already given up and moved out, and only half of the population remains. It’s not just the people that are leaving either. Most animals have left as well with 75 species of birds gone from the lake.

The loss of the lake has many people blaming the mining companies that have been ignoring warnings and moving the lake’s water sources since all the way back in 1982. The mining also brought pollution to the lake at high levels with the government doing nothing about it.

Now, attempting to take some of the blame away from the government, Bolivia’s president Evo Morales has said the lake could come back. He also attempted to have people have some fun with the lake, saying, “My father told me about crossing the lake on a bicycle once when it dried up.”

Sadly, there is little hope for lake Poopó, but it does allow us to see how we have impacted the world and how we could possibly change our ways for the better.


Photo 1: Lake Poopó, Bolivia - September 1991, photo taken by NASA. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Poop%C3%B3_Lake#/media/File:Poopo_1991.jpg

Photo 2: This is a view of Lake Poopó taken from the south eastern shore near the village of Llapallapani. It was taken by Lovisa Selander in October 2006. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fishing_boat_Lake_Poopo.jpg

Photo 3: Taken by NASA on 26 January 2016. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Poopo_2016.jpeg

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