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The Rivers of Humankind

Science, Faith and the Climate Crisis

ISBN: 978-1-83982-987-1, eISBN: 978-1-83982-984-0

Publication date: 17 June 2020


Rivers have played a defining role in the global development of human societies and culture. This will undoubtedly continue in the twenty-first century with a growing demand for water, increasing pollution of river channel and floodplain environments, and anthropogenic global warming-related changes in the frequency of floods and droughts. These will have major environmental and societal impacts worldwide. We consider how rivers initially shaped societies, and then how urbanisation, industrialisation and intensified agriculture have more recently transformed river systems, so compromising planetary health and human ways of life. So where do we go from here? Humanity now faces an existential environmental catastrophe of its own making, and it will be on the world's most densely populated floodplains where this crisis will be played out. We highlight likely areas facing the greatest challenges. Ironically, many of these are where ancient civilisations began. Interdisciplinary catchment-based approaches, and new technologies such as those based on satellite imagery and unmanned aerial vehicles, are now beginning to address pressing societal and planetary problems in the unfolding climate crisis.



Macklin, M.G. and Lewin, J. (2020), "The Rivers of Humankind", Myers, S., Hemstock, S. and Hanna, E. (Ed.) Science, Faith and the Climate Crisis, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 29-46.



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