26. Lake Chad • Chad
We have selected 100 unique places on Earth that are projected to undergo profound changes within the next few generations. We based our selection of the 100 places on the 4th Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Simply by drawing attention to the beauty of these places, 100 Places to Remember Before they Disappear creates an argument to preserve them. The 100 Places we have chosen to highlight, and the people who live in them, are in serious danger because of rising sea levels, rising temperatures and extreme weather events triggered by climate change. Among ambassadors are Joss Stone, Desmund Tutu for more info visit http://www.100places.com. Water for 20 Million People Lake Chad is located in the savannah of the Sahel region, just south of the Sahara desert. Surrounded by four countries - Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger - it is the most important source of water for drinking, crops and livestock, as well as extensive subsistence fishing, for nearly 20 million people. Lake Chad is believed to have been an inland sea some 13,000 years ago, at one point covering an imposing area of 400,000 square kilometres. As it is shallow, the size of the lake has always fluctuated greatly, but it has shrunk at an unprecedented rate over the last four decades. In the 1960s, the lake covered more than 26,000 square kilometres; by 2000, this had fallen to less than 1,500. For the first time, human activity is now causing the water level to change dramatically. Irrigation and damming of the rivers that feed Lake Chad are draining the lake and overgrazing on the savannah is damaging vegetation. It is likely that these factors will make the climate even drier. Water shortages have led to disagreements about jurisdiction between the neighbouring states, as well as to violent clashes between farmers, who are constantly diverting the water, and fishermen, who are worried about the lake shrinking. Once one of the largest lakes in the world, Lake Chad now looks set to disappear. It is predicted that climate change, in the form of higher temperatures and increasing evaporation, will accelerate the shrinkage and the transformation of grasslands and wetlands into dusty deserts. The poverty and conflict that is expected to ensue would further exacerbate the situation in an already severely distressed region.