America’s Most Endangered Rivers Report: 2008 Edition

(April 2008) Fifteen years ago, in November 1992, 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists, including the  majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued an ominous warning to the world:

“No more than one or a fewdecades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.”*

One thing is certain, if global warming is not addressed, rivers as we know and love them, will all be endangered.

Because, when drought causes the water taps to run dry, panicked community leaders will reach for 19th and 20th century solutions, like diversions and reservoirs, unless 21st century solutions, like efficiency and reuse, have been proven and government policies and programs support their widespread use.

When floodwaters kill people and destroy property, panicked leaders will look to outmoded levees and dams, unless better options like natural flood protection have been proven more effective.

This year’s America’s Most Endangered Rivers  are ten examples of the choices communities must make between failed methods of the past, or proven approaches to a better and more sustainable future.

As the nation’s leading river conservation organization, American Rivers offers communities proven approaches to adapting to global warming and gaining many valuable benefits in the effort. As more and more communities adopt these approaches, together we will create a path to a sustainable future.

Global warming means our work protecting rivers is even more important today and in the future. We have adopted the audacious goal that by 2023, we will have changed public policy and practice so that natural land cover is increasing, total water consumption is decreasing, and outmoded infrastructure is being replaced with green infrastructure, like rain gardens, green roofs and stream buffers all across America.

As a result of this major change in public policy and practice, healthy rivers will provide the resilience needed by communities to survive global warming and thrive.

These ten endangered rivers need your help. Together we can demonstrate a better way to protect communities from the impacts of global warming by protecting their rivers.

*Union of Concerned Scientists