In 1960, the Aral Sea, lying astride Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, is the fourth-largest lake in the world. Its surface area is twice that of Belgium. Many towns thrive along its shores, in principal from fishing. Also in 1960, the Soviets decide to turn the vast desert steppes of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan into fields of cotton and wheat. They divert some of the rivers that feed the lake to irrigate the new crops and thus deprive the Aral Sea of up to 16 trillion gallons of water every year. By 1970, the Aral Sea has already lost nine-tenths of its surface area. Millions of fish die, and its salinity rises considerably. In 1987 the level of the water falls so low that the sea splits into two and then, in 2002, the southern part itself divides into two parts. In 2014, the eastern part of the Aral Sea disappears forever. Man’s unregulated actions caused an ecological disaster.