Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Great Rivers of the World in Trouble

Even creationists agree that life on earth requires water and life on land requires fresh water. Of all the water on earth only 0.3% is fresh water in rivers and lakes. Around the world that resource is being stressed beyond the limits.

Amazon River
Manaus, Brazil
The mighty Amazon River, normally twelve times larger than the Mississippi River by volume, is suffering its second 100-year drought in the past five years. Major tributaries like the Rio Negro are mere trickles. The Brazilian rainforest is dying at an alarming rate.

The cause seems to be human rainforest destruction, an area the size of Texas has been stripped of trees, and climate change that seems to be evolving parts of the rainforest into a savanna habitat.

The Nile
The Blue Nile, flowing from the Ethiopian highlands, provides 85% of the Nile's flow. The White Nile, coming out of central Africa, adds 15% to the flow. The deserts of Sudan and Egypt contribute nothing to that wondrous river yet they receive and use nearly all of the Nile's water.

Ethiopia wants to develop her share of the river, a notion that terrifies Egypt. The fact is there is not enough water in the longest river on earth to serve all the humans who need it. There is the very real threat that the future will see wars fought over Nile River water.

Ganges River
The sacred Ganges begins in the glaciers of Nepal and Tibet, glaciers that are shrinking yearly. It is feared that by the end of the century the ice fields feeding the Ganges will have disappeared. This could reduce the flow of the river by two-thirds.

While this will leave one-third of India's population short of water the effect on Bangladesh will be substantially worse. Reducing the flow of the river will cause brackish water intrusion on the freshwater delta. Add in a rise in sea levels and this nation of 160 million is endanger of disappearing from the face of the earth.

Mekong River
Vientiane, Laos
The Mekong has the same source, Tibetan glaciers, as the Ganges and will have the same fate. China is building a series of eight dams on the upper reaches of the river. When completed they will deprive the downstream nations (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) of a vital resource.

Colorado River
If you don't believe that a nation can consume all of the water from a great and mighty river system, this is all that the United States leaves of the Colorado River as it flows across the border into Mexico.


Anonymous said...

terrifying images. It all comes back to water. Thank-you for your website.

Anonymous said...

I agree; it's extremely scary to think that such a basic commodity for most could soon be in short supply.

If it happens, it won't only be river cruises that suffer, it will be the entire world and economy due to what I believe is pure greed.