An image of a man standing in front of a bush in the desert.

Time: 7:00 pm Mountain Time

Zoom information will be emailed to you upono registering and a reminder email sent closer to the date of the event.

The College's University Arts and Science Faculty are pleased to announce the debut presentation in their Academic Speaker Series. Students, faculty, and the public are welcome to attend virtually via Zoom meeting.

This presentation will provide an overview of the culture, architecture, ecosystems and history of this Silk Road country, and will examine one of humanity's worst environmental disasters that is now being mitigated through afforestation and the creation of a shrubby desert ecosystem on the bottom of the former Aral Sea. The disaster was triggered by Soviet engineers working to boost cotton production in the region for export, ignoring their understanding that these mass irrigation works would likely irreversibly damage the Aral Sea. The Aral was the world's fourth largest inland water body whose fish offered the regions' population its key source of protein. Not only did the drying of the sea impact peoples' access to fish it triggered massive salty dust storms that continue to do immense damage to people, their crops and nature. Global and locally induced climate change, the continuing overuse of water all factor into the conclusion that the Aral Sea proper is gone. It's replacement is the Aralkum Desert along with constructed wetlands to bring some of the ecological values back. The novel desert ecosystem is being planted with tough salt and drought resistant plants in one of the worlds largest efforts of afforestation. Uzbekistan is on a fascinating transition from that of a totalitarian dictatorship as recently as four years ago to a Nation moving towards democracy.

About the Presenter:

Michael Keefer, President of Keefer Ecological Services Ltd.

An image of Michael Keefer, President of Keefer Ecological Services Ltd.

Michael is an ecological scientist and entrepreneur with a flair for bringing together different scientific disciplines with Indigenous and other diverse peoples' to come up with solutions to complex ecological problems. He is the owner of three environmental businesses: Keefer Ecological Services, Keefer Hazmat Services and Aspen Grove Residences - three diverse operations tied together by the thread of ecological health and sustainability. In and outside of his work life, Michael is an avid photographer whose images have a slant towards landscapes, wildlife and botanical pics but he does enjoy taking pics of people as well. He is also a devout outdoorsperson and spends as much time as he can outdoors with his dogs and friends throughout the year. As a public speaker, Michael takes great delight in sharing diverse perspectives on a plethora of subjects to help challenge the minds of audiences. A career goal of Michael's is to work internationally on sustainability related works, his last adventure pre-covid was travelling to Uzbekistan where he was an invited speaker to a conference on the Aral Sea Disaster.

An image of the desert in Uzbekistan.  An image of a ship in the desert in Uzbekistan.