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    Humans cannot destroy ecosystems


    History shows humans have devastated ecosystems, such as the Aral Sea

    The nonpartisan Center for Climate and Energy Solutions defines an ecosystem as a “community of organisms and its physical environment." While it may not be possible to demonstrate that all of a given community of organisms, as well as the entirety of its physical environment, has been destroyed by human activities, there is ample evidence that humans can -- and do -- devastate ecosystems.

    For example, the United Nations Environment Program and 40 other organizations from around the world issued a report in 2002 that described the desiccation of the Aral Sea as "a human-induced environmental and humanitarian disaster." The sea, which lies on the border of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, was once the world's fourth-largest lake and supplied the fishing industry with roughly 40,000 tons of fish each year before Soviet planners began draining it to irrigate the region. As described in the report:

    The result was the collapse of the prevailing water balance in the basin. Waterlogging and salinization eventually affected about 40 per cent of irrigated land. Overuse of pesticides and fertilizer polluted surface water and groundwater, and the delta ecosystems simply perished: by 1990, more than 95 per cent of the marshes and wetlands had given way to sand deserts and more than 50 delta lakes, covering 60 000 ha [hectares], had dried up.

    The surface of the Aral Sea shrank by one-half and its volume by three-quarters. The mineral content of the water has increased fourfold, preventing the survival of most of the sea's fish and wildlife. Commercial fishing ended in 1982. Former seashore villages and towns are now 70 km [kilometers] from the present shoreline.