As Salton Sea faces ecological collapse, a plan to save it with ocean water is rejected, the public is left questioning the water’s value, and then a proposal to use what’s left as a source of revenue to buy and protect property is rebuffed.
By Amy B. Smith
In the summer of 2017, California’s Salton Sea became the world’s largest saltwater lake when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife began dumping an estimated 300 million tons of salt into it each year. That’s about the equivalent of the nation’s annual consumption of salt, and it was the largest single addition of salt to a fresh water body in history. But the Salton Sea is only one of many in the world that are disappearing as human activity causes salinity to rise.
Scientists are now warning that by 2025, 80 percent of the world’s fresh water supplies will be polluted with high levels of salt. This is a crisis, but it’s not the first. The saltiest parts of the world are also the most rapidly deforesting. Forests and wildlife have grown up to take the place of salt marshes and inland seas. Forests are now clearing forests to create farms, oil wells, roads, and cities. Forests and salt marshes are disappearing at twice the human rate, and it’s the humans who are responsible for these losses, including the destruction of the ocean itself.
The world’s oceans are being acidified, which means that the saltiness of the water is being destroyed. This is a catastrophic change that has the potential to create massive disruptions to the marine ecosystem and to the food web. It’s the second problem that could ultimately lead to the loss of life. The other is climate change.
The ocean is the backbone of life on Earth. It provides life-sustaining oxygen, absorbs carbon dioxide, and feeds fish and other animals and plants. It also provides us