Thursday, September 06, 2012

On the (Not Quite So Beautiful) Blue Danube

This week, my dad is taking a long-anticipated cruise on the Danube River in Eastern Europe. He's been planning this trip for months now, and it's one that is well-deserved. He (and my mom, God rest her soul) worked for decades and lived frugally to ensure that they could both provide for their kids (me and my sister) and live a very comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, cancer took my mom before she could realize that hope. But my dad lives on -- a cranky but loveable curmudgeon who is now in his 9th decade walking this Earth. And he travels frequently because he can.

But this trip had to be altered somewhat. It seems that the Danube, one of Eastern Europe's most prominent waterways, and one that has fed the cultures and economies of more than a dozen countries for centuries, is getting so low that the regular cruise excursions can't travel the routes they usually do.

Part of this is, of course, due to the many hydroelectric dams that have been built to supply electrical power to the various countries the river passes through. But a good part of it has to do with the drought that is being experienced in Europe. And just about everywhere else.

We don't need to be told about drought in the Midwest. Crops are dying in the fields from lack of water. The Great Lakes are at their lowest levels in decades. Maybe even in centuries. I've seen evidence of this firsthand.

But our problem with global warming induced drought is far from local. Polar sea ice is melting at an alarming rate. And, the river that inspired Johann Strauss to write one of the most beautiful classical waltzes ever written has now become so shallow that tourists wishing to sail its waters must shorten their time on the boat  and travel the sections the ships can't take them on by bus.

But hey. Dontcha know that global warming is a myth? Republicans have said so. So it must be true. Amiright? Hello? Hello?! Is this thing on?!

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