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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Will the Rhine run dry?

A number of signs indicate that water levels of the Rhine will drop significantly in the near future, which is worrying news not only for the river’s ecosystem – it may also have a major impact on the German economy.

In the autumn of 2018, along some sections of the Rhine it was possible to walk to the sandbanks of the riverbed without getting one’s feet wet. At Cologne, record low depth of only 77 cm was measured. The river is largely fed by water from glaciers: according to a fresh survey, the amount of water they contribute is 35 percent less than it was in the first half of the 70s.

The Rhine is one of Europe’s most important commercial river waterways: it connects Switzerland through Germany to Rotterdam, the continent’s most important port. Dropping water levels could cause billions of damage to the economy. It is some 40 percent cheaper to transport goods from Basel to Rotterdam by water than by any other means. If the Rhine remains permanently low, very many companies will be forced to rethink their transportation strategies.

In 2017, 186 million tonnes of goods were transported by water between Basel and the German-Dutch border region, but most of that amount may be forced to switch to trains and trucks due to the drying up of the Rhine
Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: Bloomberg

Freshwater acidify due to carbon dioxide emission

Many studies warn us that rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere caused by the burning of fossil fuels is making the oceans grow acidic, a major threat to marine life. Comparatively less attention has been paid to freshwater ecosystems from that perspective...

Devastating, 50 °C heat wave in India

In Northern India, temperatures reached astonishing peaks in the last few days, in excess of 50 degrees Celsius. The heat, which is making millions suffer, has also caused a number of deaths. The situation is rendered worse by water restrictions introduced as wells, lakes and rivers dried up.

Hunger and thirst: hundreds of thousands may flee due to climate change

The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly perceptible: fertile land turn into desert and water reserves run out fast. This has grave consequences, as many millions of people will be forced to leave their homes, and increasing numbers of climate refugees will migrate to Europe.

A Brussels icon has become symbol of saving water

We must act responsibly to protect our waters, as increasing pollution is jeopardising our dwindling stores of freshwater. The famous Manneken Pis statue in Brussels has now gone on strike: it will no longer pee fresh water, so as to save water and to focus attention on the tremendous quantity of drinking water we waste each and every day.

Groundwater shortages: future generations at risk?

Climate change doesn’t only threaten surface waters: according to a study by Nature Climate Change, groundwater shortages could also cause major problems for future generations. In the next century, it is expected that only half the world’s groundwater reserves will still be replenished.

One of Chile’s most popular lakes dried up

Laguna de Aculeo was one of Chile’s most popular bathing destinations, less than a two-hour drive from the capital. In April 2019, NASA published shocking photos of the drastic change that the lake has undergone over the last five years.

Alarming water shortages in Australia

Australia has had a number of unusually arid months, the reservoirs of its major cities have lost significant amounts of water, with many dams below 50% by early May. Water restrictions may have to be introduced in Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane and Melbourne, too.

1.7 million starving in Somalia due to drought

Almost two million people are starving in Somalia due to a lengthy drought – the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports. Hundreds of thousands of children are already suffering from malnutrition in the East African country, and millions have left their homes due to food shortages.

Britain faces water crisis

The consequences of climate change are around us already – and increasingly ominous warnings are published one after the other about the future of the world. Britain, for instance, could face water shortages within 25 years due to its increasing population and global warming.

Are you familiar with the hydrological James Bond ratio?

Of the total stock of Earth’s water, only 0.007 percent is on the surface, that amount is easily accessible, not excessively polluted and ready for almost immediate use. That’s what we call the hydrological James Bond ratio, said Csaba Kőrösi, who also spoke about Hungary’s water shortage on World Water Day 2019.

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