30 million Uzbeks can’t be wrong

by Jonah Cohen

As part of my participation on the Advisory Board of First Stop Portland, I am occasionally asked to meet with visitors or public officials who have come to Portland to learn from our experience. First Stop Portland is run through Portland State University and their mission “To Connect Global Leaders with Local Innovators” translates into well-run densely packed tours.

Recently I had the great experience of meeting with three TV journalists from Tashkent, Uzbekistan who were visiting Portland to document stories on “ecological advances in the US.” Uzbekistan lies at the heart of the Central Asia — one of only two doubly-landlocked countries in the world (the other is Liechtenstein) and a gateway to Iran and Afghanistan. Uzbekistan also happens to be one of the most environmentally degraded countries in the world. Decades of questionable Soviet policies in pursuit of greater cotton production have resulted in a catastrophic situation. The Aral Sea used to be the fourth-largest inland sea on Earth but has now shrunk to less than 50% of its former area.

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