Johannesburg Earth Summit


By Muammar Al Qadhafi
26.08.2002
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Part 1: Lake Chad

Lake Chad used to be the sixth largest lake in the world. Now it has shrunk to a mere one-tenth of its former size.

90% of its water comes from Chari River.
The average quantity of water flowing in the Chari has declined by half.

As a result of the degradation of the lake’s environment, the inhabitants have stopped raising cows and camels. Instead, they now herd sheep and goats. This resulted in a severe degradation of the vegetation cover and the wood-producing trees.

The surface area of the lake surface has shrunk from 25000 square kilometers to only 2000.

The life of more than 20 million people depends on Lake Chad. This number will double within a quarter of a century. So will the number of the eight million people who currently live directly on the Lake.

In order to save Lake Chad, there is an urgent need to complete the construction of the Palembo Dam on the Opanghi River. Thus, the Opanghi and the Chari rivers will be connected to each other. The waters of the Opanghi will flow into the Chari. A great deal of work is also required to combat the sands threaten to block the flow of the Chari River.

Such work far exceeds the capacity of the countries concerned. As such, it requires international action and assistance.

I place this problem before the Johannesburg Conference.

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Part 2: Nile Delta – Egypt

The Nile Delta is the only agricultural land available for the Egyptian people to live on. It provides them, furthermore, with one third of the fish catch. It is the main source of food for the Egyptian people.

However it faces grave dangers that must be dealt with in order to avert a humanitarian catastrophe, not just an environmental one.

  • The sharp increase in the rates of erosion which have reached 100 meters.
  • The increase in pollution rates, where the mercury concentrations have increased 13 fold and those of lead 12 fold. These increases take place at a very high speed.
  • Silt no longer reaches the Delta.
  • More than 10 thousand km of irrigation channels in the Delta are clogged up with mud and silt.
  • Silt can no longer reach the sea.
  • The natural sand barriers on the sea are fast disappearing. This poses a major threat to the marshes, fresh water lakes and the low-lying agricultural lands in the Delta. It also threatens tourist resorts and underground water, in view of the fact that some areas are only two meters above sea level. The only protection they have is those barriers formed by the water drained from the Delta.
  • Fast growth of the plants that clog the fresh-water lakes because of the increase in organic matter and agricultural waste sedimentation.

The most dangerous aspect of the problem is the population density in the Delta, the only agricultural land in Egypt. It has reached 1600 inhabitants per squared kilometer. The villages and towns are overcrowded. The population of the Delta is increasing at an alarming rate. The situation requires serious standing to save the future of the Nile Delta. The future of an entire nation depends on it.

I draw the attention of the Johannesburg Conference to this grave problem.

As God is my witness, I have delivered the message and done my duty.

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Part 3: The Aral Sea

  • The Aral Sea used to be the fourth largest inland body of water in the world. Now it ranks eighth.
  • The irrigation needs used to be for three million hectares. Now the requirements are for eight million hectares.
  • The water discharged into the Aral Sea from the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers has decreased from 60 cubic kilometers to zero.
  • The productivity of fields south of Aral Sea has seriously deteriorated. The deterioration is the result the salt deposits carried by the strong North-East winds and the increased salinity resulting from evaporation and poor drainage.
  • The plant and animal life in the north of the Delta of the Amu Darya River has suffered a serious deterioration as a result of increased salinity and lack of water.
  • The deteriorating drainage work has led to the rise of the water table and a three-fold increase in salinity.
  • The aged irrigation networks have caused 80% of the water to be wasted.
  • Waters depth has decreased from 70 meters to 12 meters.
  • The sea was 10 km far, now it has retracted to 70 km.
  • The surface area has shrunk from 64000 km2 to 30000 km2.
  • 50 lakes have dried up in the Delta of the Amu Daria River.
  • Arable land has shrunk from 550 thousand hectares to 20 thousand hectares.
  • The Aral Sea has fragmented into three separate, highly-saline lakes.

Aral Sea used to play the role of a natural air-conditioner that blocked the cold winds coming from Siberia in winter and cooled the air in summer.

Its climatic efficiency was destroyed. The climate of the area has become more continental. Summers are much hotter and rainless. Winters are long and harshly cold. The growth season was shortened thus threatening the cotton agriculture.

The Aral seabed, which covers three million hectares, has become exposed to the winds which transfer its salts and destructive residue of insecticides to the surrounding areas. More than 70 million metric tons of salts and destructive insecticide residues have accumulated on those lands. Wind-blown, they have reached Byelorussia thousands of kilometers away.

The excessive drawing of water has turned Mionak into a peninsula.

Commercial fishing has come to a halt. Consequently, 3000 fishermen and tens of thousands of people have lost their livelihood. They used to harvest more than 20 species of fish. Only four species remain. The fish stocks were estimated at 50 thousand tons. Now, the estimate has declined to a mere 3000 tons. Only 250 fishermen remain active. The production of the farm-raised Mink fur has all but disappeared.

The economic activity related to fish canning has been suspended. Production has declined from 30 million to only 4 million. The canneries now import fish from the Baltic Sea whose production has also declined.

In addition to the economic catastrophe resulting from the degradation of the Aral Sea, there is also a very serious health disaster resulting from the pollution of water and agricultural products. Drinking water and vegetables have been seriously polluted. The amount of toxic minerals, salts and insecticides in them has increased dramatically. This caused the increase in the rate of maternal and infant mortality to 120 per 100,000 and 60 per thousand infants.

Kidney and liver diseases as well as cancer, thyroid gland and joints inflammation diseases have increased 40 to 60 fold. The lead and zinc rate have increased in women’s blood. The number of women suffering from anemia has increased by 80%. Deaths rate has reached 100 per thousand. The medical studies forecast that a whole nation living in that area will disappear in the span of one generation, unless the world takes some serious action to save them by saving the Aral Sea.

Billions cubed meters of polluted sewage waters pour in the Amu Daria River. The studies say that within ten years the whole area will become an arid desert. Thus we will have reached the point of no-return.

I place this urgent humanitarian issue before the Johannesburg Summit.

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