Water is the main source of life on our planet.It covers 70% of the Earth's surface, 95% of which is in the oceans and seas. The remaining 4% are concentrated underground, in glaciers, rivers and lakes, and fresh water reserves do not exceed three percent. Since water molecules are an ideal solvent for nutrients, its absence poses a serious threat to biodiversity and all life on our planet. In the past, limited access to water resources has repeatedly changed the course of history, erasing entire civilizations from the face of the Earth. Unfortunately, today the world is once again facing drought – long periods of extreme heat are devastating rivers and lakes around the world, leaving behind barren banks of silt and sand: rivers that have played an important role in the development of civilization for centuries are disappearing before our eyes.
A world without water
According to a recently published report onthe state of water resources, Europe is again threatened by drought. Lack of rainfall, as well as heatwaves, are expanding and worsening the condition of arid regions. Extremely high temperatures are already caused serious damage to agricultural cropsHowever, the most worrisome consequence of the drought is the decline in water levels in rivers and lakes.
Today, vanishing pools expose ancientattractions - in Spain, for example, the water level in the reservoir fell to 28% of its capacity, exposing a circle of dozens of megalithic stones dating back to 5000 BC. The discovery was discovered in the province of Huelva in southwestern Spain, and the press dubbed it the Spanish Stonehenge.
Related: 113-million-year-old dinosaur footprints found at the bottom of a dried-up river in the US
According to Reuters in an article dated 19August, the receding waters of the Danube River near the Serbian town of Prahovo made dozens of sunken ships from the Second World War public. Ammunition and explosive devices are still on board in many ships, and hundreds of sunken ships are blocking traffic on the river.
The trouble came to a small town in the north of the Czech Republicnear the border with Germany: the water level in the river dropped so low that it exposed "hungry stones" with warnings of impending famine carved on their surface. Alas, rapid climate change is destroying European rivers, showing ghost towns and sunken ships to the astonished public. I talked about these events in more detail here, do not miss it.
In early July, the Italian government announceda state of emergency in five regions due to drought, jeopardizing the supply of olive oil and rice, which could lead to a rise in prices for these products by up to 50%, writes The Guardian. According to Prime Minister Elisabeth Bourne, neighboring France faces worst drought since 1958.
Romania did not stand aside:about 75% of the country's territory was hit by a severe drought, due to which, according to forecasts, the grain harvest will be reduced by 30 million tons. However, the greatest impact of drought, according to a recent statement by the United Nations (UN), most noticeable on the African continent. But has something similar happened in the past?
According to scientists, we are witnessing the worst drought on the European continent in the last 500 years.
Drought in the past
Archaeologists exploring the tombs of the ancient pharaohsEgypt, found evidence of a drought that hit the Middle East and parts of Europe 4,500 years ago. Some experts believe that it was the drought, and not civil strife, that caused the death and defeat of the pharaohs, who ruled the country for 3,000 years before the region became a province of the Roman Empire in 30 BC.
Mayan Empire in the Yucatan Peninsula alsohit by drought at the most vulnerable time in its history. Rapid population growth coincided with a decrease in annual rainfall 1,200 years ago, resulting in crop failure and war with neighboring nations. Ultimately, the depletion of water resources hastened the death of this great empire.
Drought also contributes to the spreaddeadly diseases. So, in the mid-1930s, the lack of access to clean water led to outbreaks of dangerous diseases among two million people, experts say.
China, which survivedmany droughts throughout its history. Yet none of them can compare to the drought of 1928-1930, which some experts call "the most catastrophic event of the 20th century in China." Then the drought led to a massive famine that claimed the lives of three to ten million people. Well, the culprit of today's misfortunes is the rapid climate change.
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As droughts limit access to essentialresources, today a huge number of people are forced to leave their homes in search of food and water. You can read about how many climate refugees have fled the drought in the past few years here.
Drought in 2022
The scale of the current drought is striking:hardly anyone could have imagined that there would be almost nothing left of the famous Rhine River in Germany - the water level in some parts of the Rhine had become too low for the passage of ships. This paralyzed trade and led to disruptions in the work of companies involved in the transportation of oil and coal.
Even worse were the consequences - a hugea number of organisms traditionally living on the bottom died due to lack of water and extremely high temperatures this summer. What is happening threatens a real ecological disaster, as it violates the vital food chain: birds that are used to feeding on the banks of the Rhine die due to lack of food.
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The shallowing of the rivers also affected the touristcruises - passengers had to urgently change excursion routes. Note that river cruises are a multi-billion dollar industry that has remained unchanged for over 55 years. Needless to say, the locals are shocked by what is happening. A similar situation is observed in many European countries, and the consequences will be felt in the very near future by the inhabitants of the whole world.
In our country, the situation with rivers and lakes is not so tense, however climate change in Russia is happening faster than in other countries. Thus, fires are destroying more and more forests, and climatic events are predicted to intensify every year. You can read more about the possible consequences of global warming here.