There’s the old saying about never crossing the same river twice, and that’s truer now than ever. Rivers have changed dramatically over the past few decades.
I probably crossed a few undammed, unhindered rivers on family trips when I was a kid, but if I tried to do the same thing today, I would need a good map and some determination.
Less that 1% of major rivers in the United States remain wild. And while the Amazon has neither dam nor bridge, many of its tributaries have both.
The group International Rivers posts on its website:
“Free-flowing rivers have become so rare that they would be classified as an endangered species if they were considered living things rather than merely support systems for all living things. What have we lost in the rush to dam our rivers?
Of the world’s 177 largest rivers, only one-third are free flowing, and just 21 rivers longer than 1,000 km retain a direct connection to the sea. Damming has led to species extinctions, loss of prime farmland and forests, social upheaval, loss of clean water supplies, dessicated wetlands, destroyed fisheries and more.”
A new Oxford study show that major river dams are one of the least efficient economic investments a nation can make when it comes to generating energy – and that’s before the environmental costs are factored in.
Since the dawn of civilization, humans have made their settlements and livelihoods on the banks of rivers around the world. Rivers have connected communities and carried us to sea, across borders and continents. From the water they bring to their constant flow, rivers are, across cultures and time, the very symbol of life itself.