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UNTAVI, Bolivia – Overturned fishing skiffs lie abandoned on the shores of what was Bolivia’s second-largest lake. Beetles dine on bird carcasses and gulls fight for scraps under a glaring sun in what marshes remain. Lake Poopo was officially declared evaporated last month. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have lost their livelihoods and gone. High on Bolivia’s semi-arid Andean plains at 3,700 meters [~12,000 ft.]and long subject to climatic whims, the shallow saline lake has essentially dried up before only to rebound to twice the area of Los Angeles. But recovery may no longer be possible, scientists say.”This is a picture of the future of climate change,” says Dirk Hoffman, a German glaciologist who studies how rising temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels has accelerated glacial melting in Bolivia.
That’s the lede. Pretty standard stuff for a climate change story. Further down, however:
The head of a local citizens’ group that tried to save Poopo, Angel Flores, says authorities ignored warnings. “Something could have been done to prevent the disaster. Mining companies have been diverting water since 1982,” he said. [Emphasis added.]
And then, towards the very end of the story:
Environmentalists and local activists say the government mismanaged fragile water resources and ignored rampant pollution from mining, Bolivia’s second export earner after natural gas. More than 100 mines are upstream and Huanuni, Bolivia’s biggest state-owned tin mine, was among those dumping untreated tailings into Poopo’s tributaries. [Emphasis added.]
The president of Bolivia’s National Chamber of Mining, Saturnino Ramos, said any blame by the industry is “insignificant compared to climate change.” He said most of the sediment shallowing Poopo’s tributaries was natural, not from mining.
Look, I’m no expert on Bolivia, tin mining, or the environment. I have no way of judging what’s to “blame” for this lake drying up. Maybe it’s mining. Maybe it’s climate change. Maybe it’s simply a natural cycle for this lake. Maybe a combination of all these factors. Maybe it’s something else entirely. I have no idea.
My point, simply, is that progressive environmentalists aren’t the only ones who potentially benefit from climate change hysteria. Hypothetically, if heavy industry could shift public opinion away from industrial pollution and towards CO2, it’d have a big incentive to do so.