Poopo, Bolivia’s second-largest lake, has dried up

Insight

Bolivia’s second-largest lake has virtually vanished, leading to an ecological mystery: Is it climate change? Or something else?

CCTV’s Dan Collyns reports from Bolivia.

Poopo, Bolivia's second-largest lake, has dried up

Bolivia's second-largest lake has virtually vanished, leading to an ecological mystery: Is it climate change? Or something else?

Lake Poopo was Bolivia’s second largest. It started to dry up in late 2014, and by December last year it evaporated.

In the Uru Uru Lake, just south of the Bolivian city of Oruro, flamingos that once lived around Lake Poopo now have to sift through shallow, rubbish-strewn waters. These majestic pink birds had no choice but to migrate here after Lake Poopo dried up.

The lakeside fishing village Untavi is virtually deserted. For the local fisherman their income has dried up, too.

Scientists said a drought linked to El Nino, as well as the diversion of rivers for mining and farming, have all played a part in Lake Poopo’s latest disappearance.

It’s not the first time the lake has dried up. In 1994, it turned into a salt flat. It took two years for the lake to recover. But if scientific predictions are to be believed this might be the last time.

The Bolivian government has asked the EU for $140 million to dredge the Desaguadero River, which provided more than 90 percent of the lake’s water.


Economist Rachel Cleetus on the implications of climate change

If the lake’s disappearance does turn out to be climate change, it would fall in line with a recent pattern: from droughts to floods; worsening storms to record-breaking temperatures.

For more, CCTV America’s Mike Walter spoke to Rachel Cleetus, the lead economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Economist Rachel Cleetus on the implications of climate change

For more, CCTV America's Mike Walter spoke to Rachel Cleetus, the lead economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.