Lakes are falling victim to human abuse and climate changes. Some of the world’s largest lakes are shrinking away; becoming ghosts of their former selves. Lake Chad was once the sixth largest lake in the world. However, over the course of about 30 years, the 25,000 square kilometers of water have shrunk by 95%, to a mere 1,350 square kilometers.
Many Chadian government officials believe global warming is the sole cause for the shrinking of the lake. During the 1970s and continuing to present times, Lake Chad has suffered from some severe droughts. Along with the lack of rainfall, the temperatures have been rising. Due to these environmental elements, large amounts of water have evaporated.
Lake Chad is believed to sustain the lifestyle of about 20 million people. Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon have shared the giant lake. Fishermen recall the past when they had difficulty pulling their large loads of fish to shore. Today, the haul is drastically less than it used to be. Even the quality of fish is not as great as it once was. If the climate changes continue to occur, the ecosystem of plants and animals in Lake Chad will continue to disappear as well.
The quantity of fish in the lake has even caused some fishermen to turn to farming as a way to earn an income. Water is necessary for irrigation as well. The lack of rainfall and drier climate has increased the demands of water for agricultural use. Between 1983 and 1994, the withdrawals for irrigation quadrupled. As the population continues to grow, irrigation needs will continue to rise as well.
Climate change is not the sole cause of the shrinking Lake Chad. Human usage is also affecting the life of the lake. There is no clean drinking water. People use Lake Chad as a toilet, a clothes washer, and a bath. Cholera outbreaks are happening every year. The idea of boiling water goes against local beliefs. As the availability of water is decreasing, conflicts over the water are increasing.
Lake Chad is not the only lake feeling the affects of human consumption and climate change. China has several lakes that are disappearing. The Yangtze River has lost some size due to flooding. The flooding led to deforestation and land reclamation. Other lakes have suffered losses due to irrigation, sewage systems, and other forms of pollution.
It all boils down to human nature. The way people treat the world around them affects the climate changes. Increased emissions of CO2 are increasing global warming. The key to slowing down shrinking waters is to make lifestyle changes. It is important that the world begins working together before all the freshwater disappears.