Bolivia’s Lake Poopó dried up, depicting early picture of climate change

Bolivia’s Lake Poopó dried up, depicting early picture of climate change

Lake Poopo that was once the second largest lake in Bolivia has evaporated, leaving hundreds of people to struggle to find new sources for their livelihoods.

Bolivia authorities officially declared the lake, which is pronounced as po-oh-PO, evaporated in December 2015. One can still see overturned fishing skiffs lie abandoned on the lake’s shores, and beetles dining on bird carcasses.

The shallow saline lake was located quite high on Bolivia’s semiarid Andean plains and was subject to climatic whims. It dried up before just to rebound to a size nearly twice the area of Los Angeles.

German glaciologist Dirk Hoffman, who studies how soaring temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels has accelerated the pace of glacial melting in Bolivia, said the lake’s end depicted a picture of the future of climate change.

Angel Flores, the leader of a group that tried to save Lake Poopó, said authorities ignored repeated warnings. Criticizing authorities, Flores said, “Something could have been done to prevent the disaster. Mining companies have been diverting water since 1982.”

More than one hundred families have set aside their fishing nets, sold their sheep and other belongings, and left the former lakeside village of Untavi within the past few years. Only a few elderly people remain in the area.

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