The Mississippi River runs through the central United States. It empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It has a length of 3,770 kilometers. One of its tributaries, the Missouri , is the longest river in North America. The Mississippi is used as a route for transportation. For people. For merchandise. But the persistent drought is jeopardizing this use and, therefore, also the economic benefits that it entails.
50% of the cereal crop has been lost
Gigantic barges are seen stranded at the bottom of the river. The visible sandbars are more numerous than ever. In the region, they had never seen the Mississippi’s water level so low before. Climate change strikes a nation where skeptics still abound.
This situation is not surprising. The worst drought in half a century is occurring. The water level of the Mississippi River is about to reach an all-time low. In a few weeks, the authorities will be forced to close navigation on the river. Paradoxically, in the spring of 2011 the entire region was flooded by the rising river. Thousands of people had to flee their homes. If there is no rain, the Mississippi’s water level will hit that terrible record this month, according to the National Weather Service.
The problems of the Mississippi
But the problems of the Mississippi River affect not only the navigation of ships, but also agriculture. The terrible drought of last summer left more than 50% of the cereal farmland dry.
The drought has produced such a low level in the waters that parts of the rocks on the bottom can be seen, a danger for boats. The largest and heaviest barges are the first to stay on land.
In August, some 93 ships ran aground on the Mississippi River near Greenville. For this reason, the 17-kilometer stretch was closed. The solution to transportation is to dredge the river (which is damaging the environment) and to place buoys that indicate a safe navigation path . The solution to climate change is more complicated. The first step is to recognize that it exists and that we have to do something about it.
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