We finished watching the four episodes Jacques Cousteau did on the Danube this weekend. And now I have to start over because you can’t get it all the first time around. The Danube is the only river in Europe that flows from west to east and finally ends in the Black Sea. The problems it has are common to many rivers and aggravated because is flows through the countries that were once part of the Soviet orbit. Problems that we think get ignored because of super capitalism and emphasis on development are even worse in these countries.
The programs were made in the early nineties so some of the worst problems on this river may have been corrected, but I’m not holding my breath.
But we have our own problems stemming from attempts to force the natural world to conform to our vision of what it should be instead of what it is.
A river isn’t just the water in the channel, the part we see and confuse with a meandering blue line on a map. The river is the ocean that gives up it’s moisture to the rains and snows. The river is the winter ice and the summer sun. The river is the snow, rain and hail. The river includes the animals that depend on it for water and forage, the trees that shade its banks and shelter the birds. The river is the disappearing marshes and the migratory birds that nest in the reeds. The canals are the river and so are the drying wetlands that used to hold back the floods. The dams we build are the river and so are the fish blocked from their native spawning grounds. The river is the disappearing fish and the villagers who depend on those fish for a livelihood. The river is the untreated chemical waste from aging industrial plants, sewage from overburdened cities and the radiation leaking from nuclear power plants that saw their better days years ago. And this particular river is children flying kites in the skies to remind us that they will have to live the world that we are building.