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Rivers Run Dry in China and Europe as Climate Crisis Fuels Record Droughts

HeadlineAug 19, 2022

In climate news, China has deployed cloud-seeding airplanes over drought-stricken parts of the country, as hundreds of millions of people endure China’s longest heat wave on record. This week China’s Ministry of Water Resources ordered planes to drop silver iodide into the clouds over Hubei province, where prolonged heat has damaged crops and led parts of the Yangtze River to run dry. Similar scenes are playing out along rivers in Europe, including the Rhine, the Danube and the Loire in western France, where this week residents visited dry river beds that are normally covered with meters of water.

Sylviane Perroud: “It makes me sad. It makes me sad because I grew up in the village and have never seen the Loire like that. Before, we could go to the water holes over there with the children and fish, because the water was not too hot yet. Now when we go, it’s just algae and frogs. All the fish died of the heat or were eaten by the herons.”

The low river levels have impacted France’s 56 nuclear plants, many of which rely on river water to keep their reactors cool. This week French officials granted an exemption to environmental laws to allow nuclear plants to discharge hot water into already warming local rivers. This comes as Europe’s glaciers are experiencing their worst summer melt season on record. Scientists with the European Commission say this summer’s extreme drought could be the continent’s worst in 500 years.

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