Climate change is causing lakes to dry up, leading to a number of unfortunate circumstances. The latest? As the Great Salt Lake’s water levels continue to decline, it could cause a toxic dust cloud to form around Salt Lake City.
The Great Salt Lake has decreased by two-thirds of its size since the 1980s, and as it shrinks, it has seen increasing salinity levels. In turn, the water may kill off more marine life, which 10 million migratory birds depend on for food.
Even more frightening, the shrinking lake means more arsenic from the lake bed will be exposed. High winds and storms may carry the arsenic into the air that surrounds nearby Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is home to about 75% of Utah’s entire population.
“We have this potential environmental nuclear bomb that’s going to go off if we don’t take some pretty dramatic action,” Joel Ferry, a Republican state lawmaker and lakeside rancher in Utah, told The New York Times.
Lawmakers in Utah are concerned that the declining water levels will lead to a similar ongoing scenario in California. There, Owens Lake was entirely drained for municipal water use in Los Angeles, which has now paid $2.5 billion to prevent toxic air pollution from taking over the city.
Lead Image: Bison walk along a section of the Great Salt Lake that used to be underwater, near Salt Lake City, Utah on Aug. 1, 2021. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.
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