Will Great Rivers Die? Yes.

Image of dry river bed from Kolforn on Wikimedia, free to share under CC4 Share-alike Atrribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/)


By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey
Water is our most important commodity. Without water we can’t live and societies cannot flourish or in some cases cannot even subsist. The rivers of the world which provide the water for agriculture, mining, drinking, and hydroelectric power are in trouble.
The water tables are declining in many major areas of the world due to global warming, climate change, and the building of dams for irrigation purposes, which results in water evaporation.
There are two types of aquifers that supply water: replenishable and nonreplenishable. The aquifers of India and North China Plain are replenishable, but the Ogalla aquifer in the United States, the deep aquifers of the North China Plain, and the aquifers of Saudi Arabia are nonreplenishable. The drying of rivers in these areas means the end of agriculture in the southwestern US and the Middle East.
The hardest-hit areas where rivers are already drying up are:

  • The United States, where the water table has dropped by 100 feet (30 meters) in Southwest US and where thousands of wells have gone dry in the Southern Great Plains.
  • Gujarat, India, where the water table is falling by 20ft/year. 95% of the wells owned by small farmers have dried up.
  • Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel, and Mexico are experiencing severe water shortages caused by the overpumping of aquifers.
  • The Colorado River in Southwest United States, the Yellow River in North China, the Nile in Egypt, the Indus in Pakistan, the Ganges in India are all experiencing depletions in river volume and flow. Smaller rivers have disappeared.

The Colorado River rarely makes it to the sea and is usually drained dry be the time it reaches the Gulf of California. The Yellow River ran dry in 1972 and since 1985 does not reach the sea. The Nile rarely reaches the sea. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are also in trouble. Many of the smaller rivers or tributaries of the great rivers around the world have already dried up.
Africa will probably be the hardest hit by global warming which will cause less rain to fall in Africa within the next 50 years. A small decrease in rainfall can cause a substantial decrease in available river water. The prediction is a 10 to 20% reduction in rainfall by 2070. [1]
Today the copper and gold mines in Chile and Peru are pumping water in from the Pacific Ocean to lessen the stress on streams and waterways within the farming districts of these areas. But how much water can be pumped from the oceans?
So will our great rivers die? It all depends on how the people of the world relate to this problem of global warming and climate change and how they go about trying to conserve water, the ecosystems, and the environment. It might also depend on evolutionary forces.
According to research scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of Exeter, and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the increase of carbon dioxide levels will cause plants to use less water, which will allow more water for rivers causing “river flow increases.” [2]
So will some rivers dry up and new rivers form? Or will all rivers dry up? Without human intervention regarding the detrimental causes of environmental pollution, global warming, and climate change, the rivers will continually dry up. However without any intervention whatsoever, the rivers will dry up, and new rivers may form.
Didn’t the great Mississippi River form millions of years ago through the melting of glacial ice caps? So isn’t it possible that the glacial ice caps melting in the Himalayan Mountains could foster new rivers forming in China? However we are reading that the glacial ice caps melting in China due to global warming are causing rivers to dry up. But the Himalayan glaciers are melting at an “unprecedented rate” and the rivers are drying up due to temperature rising and “over-exploitation” of water systems. [3]
So will our great rivers die? Our Great Rivers are the Mississippi, the Thames, the Amazon, the Nile, the Zambezi, the Yangtze, and the Volga. They are still intact and sometimes overflowing. New waterways are continually formed due to changes in rainfall and temperatures. These will empty into the great rivers.
But still man must make every endeavor to not overuse our natural resources and find more efficient methods for power and irrigation. Dams and hydroelectric power are helping to kill our rivers.
We need our Great Rivers for the survival of the human race and the animal kingdom.
References:
[1] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0303_060303_africa_2.html
[2] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070905083617.htm
[3] http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/20/1993/
Copyright © 2018 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. All rights reserved. Minor edits made by Mr. Goertzel.