Aug 11, 2022
Europe’s drying Rhine River is just days away from being closed to cargo ships. Water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead in the western US are so low that millions of people risk losing power. To the south, scientists are racing to save an endangered fish dying in stagnant pools along the Rio Grande.
The reason, many experts say, is obvious.
“Climate change is the heart of the issue,” the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) ecosystems officer told CBS News. “In the long term we need to address the root causes."
The Rhine is one of Europe's most important shipping routes. The lower water levels are forcing cargo ships to lighten their loads to stay afloat on the river. That raises prices. It also means it takes longer to ship items.
Officials in Germany worry they won’t be able to get coal to power plants to make electricity. They get coal delivered via the Rhine. The country already faces a long winter of energy rationing. Gas from Russia to the country has been almost completely cut off.
Lake Powell and Lake Mead are close to “dead pool” status. That's the point at which both lakes can no longer provide enough water to power hydroelectric plants. As of last week, Lake Powell was only a quarter full. Lake Mead is just 40 feet from becoming a dead pool.
Also last week, the Rio Grande dried up in New Mexico. Biologists pulled out as many endangered silvery minnows as they could. The fish will be released in flowing water. Only about 5% of these fish are expected to survive.
Photo from Reuters.
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