The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
These Are the Challenges Facing India’s Most Sacred River
By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
Dolphins in Peril
Large schools of freshwater dolphins, known as Ganges River dolphins, were once found along the river. Now they swim in small groups or alone, and have become endangered due to pollution, dams, irrigation projects and the dredging of new shipping channels.
More than 1 billion litres of raw sewage flow into the river every day. In places, the water's bacteria count reaches 3,000 times the limit declared safe for bathing by the World Health Organization.
Plastic and industrial waste, such as waste water from the leather tanneries that sit on the banks of the Ganges, are another cause of pollution.
Lack of Water
But perhaps the most worrying problem facing the river is its increasing lack of water. Water for irrigation is being removed faster than the rainy season can replenish it.
Dams and Diversions
The Ganges is being throttled by more than 300 dams and diversions, with many more blocking its tributaries, stopping the natural ebb and flow of the river.
Climate change is making the monsoon rains unpredictable, increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events like droughts, and leaving the fishermen of the Ganges with dwindling catches.
Reposted with permission from our media associate World Economic Forum.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.
The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
By George Citroner
- Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
- Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
- Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.
Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.