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30 Things You Didn’t Know About Rivers


30 Things You Didn’t Know About Rivers

Peter Bosshard

1. Rivers are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Rivers and lakes sustain more fish species than the sea even though they contain 600 times less water.

2. Rivers feed us. Freshwater fisheries currently sustain up to 550 million people on a fish-based diet.


The world that we destroy is the world that created us. That does not bode well for our future. What will it take for humanity to become sane?

We are at this point the only antisocial social species. Our fatalistic greed will be the end of us. There is great sadness evident in this article. It almost sounds like an eulogy.

What regrets will the young people have when it is too late and the tally of what was lost is inescapable.

What majesty and wonder we saw

and wasted.


As Yogi told us, it ain’t over til it’s over.


Mairead -
The end is not near …
…but the end of the good times is!

The end of the endless bounty and myriad richness of this planet’s life is rapidly disappearing. Sure we will still be here 'cause it ain’t over till it’s over but then again it’s the bottom of the ninth and two outs.

Optimism is out of place when catastrophe beckons. Sometimes hard headed pragmatism that scares the pants off the starry eyed optimists is the only thing that will save the day. People should get scared …real scared and they should face what it is that is being lost because then they just might try to save it.

This erudite piece would have amazed and excited me when I was young. How wonderful rivers are I’d say back then but now I can’t say it. I can say how wonderful they once were though.

The whole game of baseball may not be over but in ballparks all over …games do end. We are seeing a lot ninth innings these days.


My family lives near the mighty Du Page River - East Branch, in the western suburbs of Chicago. In my youth, the river was contained by tree-lined banks, and as kids we would pretend it was right out of an Tarzan movie. During the early 60s, the Du Page was dredged and straightened(again - the river was first “groomed” in the late 40s); the tree-lined banks were replaced by a levee, and our views changed; so did the wind patterns and the way the seasonal floods happened. The East and West branches of the Du Page unite in Bolingbrook, and then feed the Illinois River, then the Mississippi. It’s always been thought provoking to be connected to a major river system. Our Park District’s main facility is on the rover, and takes advantage of the natural surroundings very nicely, too.


Every point you make is painfully true. I suppose I prefer to believe that there are enough of us who are smart enough and committed enough to take over government and turn things around while we still have a habitable planet.

We can’t recover the species who’ve gone completely extinct because of humans, but if we do get together and turn things around we can conserve the remaining species diversity. Then, as we free up habitat, individuals will move in, as they have to Chernobyl’s informal wildlife refuge, and new species, or at least subspecies, will gradually emerge.

That feels reassuring to me, enough that I’ve committed what’s left of my life to making it happen.


You sound sane… evidently you are not a republican.

I’m in full agreement with you but I think a whole lot is riding on this election. If Bernie gets in he will do so because of huge popular support. That will give him a large base to help him get legislation passed that we all need.

Go Bernie… we need you.

I think I’ll refrain from being my usually cheery >>> The planet is rapidly becoming doomed and how was your day?

We all need a little reassuring when we can get it. You got some today. Hold on to it. Tomorrow is another day …sigh.


i love Peter Bosshard! He and IRN are inspiring and should be treasured!


“Dams have fragmented two thirds of the world’s great rivers. They store about 7,000 cubic kilometers or one sixth of the water flowing in rivers.”

How does this effect the rivers ability to recharge ground water basins and wetlands?


Actually wetlands will suffer from dammed rivers for two reasons. One is that silt that restores wetlands against ocean erosion gets trapped behind the dams and evaporation and diversion for agriculture and municipalities reduce the amount of water reaching the sea. There are many famous rivers that virtually never make it to the sea any longer.

While ground water upstream of the dam is not usually a concern the lower flow downstream due to diversions is. So much water is diverted from rivers before they reach bay in Calif. that certain species were or have become extinct due to the increased salinity of the water. Check out the Aral Sea in Russia that is an awesome example of diversions.

Aside from the slower flow, less depth = warmer rivers, species such as salmon and others are unable to survive passage through the turbines of hydroelectric projects and need man’s assistance via nurseries and hatcheries as well as specially constructed fish ladders to help spawning fish. Unfortunately the fingerlings do not survive the turbines but we try.


Yet , in spite of all these truths one of those champions of the “free market” claimed rivers as inefficient and wasteful given that they poured millions of gallons of fresh water each and every year into oceans and that Fresh Water coul dbe better “utilized” so as to generate jobs and profits.

This the mindset we on the side of the environment have to deal with and it the mindset entire economies are built around.


I have often wondered this.

Few on this Earth can deny the mind numbing beauty of nature. Indeed the very rich will go out of their way to build mansions so as to that best advantage of an ocean our mountain viewand gaze upon it each and every day. I do not think there a soul on this earth that is not touched in some way by the beauty of nature wherein they feel a stirring of bliss from their depths.

Yet , for profits sake , there those that go out of their way to destroy Nature and replace life and abundance and the spectacular with a wasteland. There something profoundly wrong with those that would do such. They are unbalanced and they are running things.


Everything you say is quite true.

I think the thing is the temporary nature of human life and the seemingly permanence of nature are at opposites. A rich man can build a mansion overlooking a scenic bay while the company he owns stock in is polluting that very spot. The end of that bay is many years far off and when it starts to be polluted he has already moved elsewhere him being rich. Where that person to have to endure the effects of his investments he would not have those investments then would he? Rich stockholders of Shell oil do not have to live by oil contaminated lands and rivers in Nigeria or elsewhere.

They are simply uncaring … it always seems to shock people that someone doesn’t care about destroying beauty or even hurting innocent people but then most of us do not profit from destroying nature or the environment while some people (a few) do.


Groundwater and wetlands mostly recharge rivers, not rivers groundwater and wetlands.



Check this out


This person is an exemplar of what a single individual can add to the mix in these dire times for our natural world. A truly impressive and useful effort from which I learned much and did so enjoyably. Will visit the site in the future to continue learning and for sharing this informative site, I thank you nineteen50. I wish there were more people who made such good use of their time and knowledge like her in this country. A really great site from a single and obviously dedicated individual.


I live in Northern Ca. and rely on a well for my water so I have an interest in the drought issue. As cities restrict water use to residents the county has done nothing to stop an explosion of nut orchards and the ag wells that are dropped into the water basin to sustain them. The water basin in my area has dropped 15 feet in 8 years and 1.9 feet from 2014 -2015 while the county drags it’s feet. I live in an agricultural area and support ag, but they are not the only ones here and an equitable solution is need soon. I have already replaced a well gone dry and do not want to do so again for someone’s profit at my expense.
The other side is the destruction of a environmental system as wells and wetlands and rivers run dry.


Climate change has already pushed us past one particular tipping point that isn’t usually considered among the various tipping points concerning natural systems.

Our old way of doing things - the ways that used to sustain us - have reached a tipping point (due to climate change and our own blithering short sighted incompetency) and are failing us left and right. Deplete an aquifer, dig a deeper well! Drought? Drop another ag well and it isn’t working.

We act as if there were no future. The Fatalism of Greed tipping point. Our system’s ability to sustain us is collapsing.

In the face of disaster some hold on to hope that somehow - magically - it will all get better eventually! Some grow fatalistic instead and recognize the futility of hope …

The problem is that both groups will continue drilling wells instead of trying to do things differently.

People (our systems) are not geared to do things differently and now that is catching up to us fast. We don’t know how to do anything other than what we usually do nor are we even set up to try.

I pity the young because the bountiful world as we knew it has passed us by and the world of scarcity and want - as we make it to be… is frightening to behold.

A lack of water will drive many SoCal’ers north, so you NoCal’ers best be expecting lots of new neighbors over the next decade and so on.

Summer’s here and the dying is easy!
Winter’s here and the living is easy!


Many So. Ca. farmers and ranchers saw the writing on the wall that is why we have an explosion in orchard plantings and ag wells.