Environment Italy's longest river, fed by melt from the Alps, dries up, threatening agricultural collapse

tom_mai78101

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The Italian river Po travels 403 miles from the Alps to the wilds of the Po river delta in the East, where it finally empties into the Adriatic Sea. Along the way, the water nourishes the agricultural fields that Italians have farmed for thousands of years. Today, the agricultural products it grows provides 40% of the nation’s GDP.

Euro News reports that currently, a drought so severe that it threatens the breadbasket of Italy has dried up the Po River so severely that seawater has been able to be ‘sucked back upstream.’ The reason is that the water in the delta is “higher than upstream. This is because the vacuum left by the lack of river water is being filled by seawater,” Giancarlo Mantovani, the Director of a consortium that protects the delta’s biodiversity, which can be seen flowing back upstream in some areas. For farmers in the area, it means saltwater seeping into the earth and poisoning crops, which are blackened and wilting.”

There has been no rain for three months and counting, but the source of the problem starts in the Alps, where snowfall is now at its lowest level in over twenty years, measuring fifty percent lower than average. It is not only reduced snowfall, but the Alp’s glaciers which are the reservoirs for freshwater, have rapidly thinned, enabling permafrost to thaw and massive boulders of rock to break off the towering mountains.

The process is playing out across the world, from the Himalayas to the Rocky Mountains and the Sierras in the United States and Canada. Scientists have warned of this process for decades and are becoming a severe threat from climate shocks that reduce the freshwater supply for billions of people worldwide. A warming planet is turning the agricultural lands of Italy into a ‘salty wasteland while putting hundreds of thousands of livelihoods at risk. “It is a 360-degree disaster,” states Mantovani to Rebecca Ann Hughes of Euro News.

The problem is now even direr as groundwater has begun to be pumped by farmers where they find only saltwater allowing, even more, to move upstream. A feedback loop is now set in motion, The result will be a loss of thirty percent of agricultural production to dead soil.


 

The Helper

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The ice age is over. Nothing we can do to stop it IMHO. Best be investing resources in adapting to it rather than try to reverse it.
 
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