And a Stinking, Dried-Up River Runs Through It

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That rafting trip down the Colorado River you were planning? Scratch it. According to a group called the World Water Commission for the 21st Century, more than half the world’s major rivers, including the Colorado, are drying up or oozing with pollution. The commission, supported by the United Nations and the World Bank, is looking for ways to safeguard water supplies for the next century — and it looks like they’ve got their work cut out for them. Although the full findings are under wraps until March, a grim summary of the study, released Monday in Washington, D.C., gives conservationists plenty to worry about.

In case this point had escaped anyone, it seems that industry isn't doing the planet any good, and our riverways may be getting the brunt of the abuse. Among the world's largest — and most traveled — waterways, the Yellow River (China), the Colorado River (U.S.) and the segment of the Nile River that runs into the Mediterranean (Africa) are in terrible shape, due mostly to agricultural and industrial run-off, as well as increased rates of evaporation. On the bright(er) side, the relatively sheltered Amazon (South America) and Congo (sub-Saharan Africa) are looking pretty robust. For the moment, anyway.