In China, parts of Asia’s longest river, the Yangtse, are seeing record low water levels, causing disruption to hydropower, halting shipping and forcing major companies to suspend operations. Millions of people have faced power cuts. Meanwhile, in Germany, the Rhine’s unusually low level has affected shipping and the economy.
Across many parts of the planet in 2022, we have seen the cascading impacts of the climate crisis on freshwater ecosystems, with increasingly frequent and intense dry periods interspersed with floods and extreme precipitation. Over the past five years, one in five river basins has experienced fluctuations in surface water outside their natural range.
These examples highlight the dangers of taking freshwater ecosystems for granted, say environmental experts. As the world marks World Water Week, which runs from 23 August to 1 September in Stockholm, countries are urged to do more to protect their lakes, rivers and wetlands, that are often overlooked when it comes to conservation.
“Freshwater ecosystems have outsize benefits for society, climate, nature, biodiversity and economies, so protecting them is a top priority,” says Joakim Harlin, Chief of the Freshwater Ecosystems Unit at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Continue reading the full story at UN Environment.
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