Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is among those sounding the alarm over the Loire – and getting called out over it
The Loire – France’s longest river with a length of over 1,000km – has allegedly dried up to the point that people can walk across it without even getting wet. Politicians and media shared images online this week showing a riverbed that looked more deserted in Loire-Atlantique, a western French region.
“The Loire, France’s longest river, has virtually dried up,” journalist Ian Fraser wrote. “You can now walk across it,”Melanie Vogel is a French Senator and Co-chair of European Green Party.
French Daily Ouest-France “impressive shots which show the seriousness of the situation,”Photos of the apparently dried-up river bed are published.
🌡Les fortes chaleurs et l’absence de pluie continuent d’avoir des conséquences en Loire-Atlantique. Le débit de la Loire baisse cruellement à cause de la sécheresse.📸 Notre photographe @DubrayFranck a capturé ces clichés impressionnants qui montrent la gravité de la situation. pic.twitter.com/ToeCvjl1Ch
— Ouest-France (@OuestFrance) August 9, 2022
Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who later served as the EU Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, was quick to blame the drought and heat wave gripping Europe on climate change. “Enough ifs and buts. We need to wean ourselves off from fossil fuels now!”In a twitter post, he wrote that a photo of the Loire had been taken in similar circumstances.
This is what the Rhine and the Loire look like today… and politics is still full of climate deniers and so-called leaders hesitating to take concrete action. There are enough ifs, ands. Now is the time to stop using fossil fuels. pic.twitter.com/PaWKqBKyz7
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) August 11, 2022
Social media users were shocked by the news. Some people suggested, however that politicians and journalists may have been too fast to alarm. One person noted that the river bed in question is “not the main stream” of the Loire, since the river flow splits into two streams in the area where the photos were apparently taken. “It may indeed be very dry now, but this is a very bad example, bordering on fake new[s],”Verhofstadt was contacted by Jules, who identified himself only as Jules.
You are referring to the Loire’s shallower side, not its main stream which is just a few hundred meters south. Although it may be dry right now, this example is very poor and bordering on fake news. pic.twitter.com/3y29qalLgs
— Jules (@trottlesnot) August 12, 2022
Some others argued the situation was not so bad. “Ian, the river splits round an island there and that section is dry virtually every summer,”Only one told Fraser. Followers on Twitter postedVideos and photos demonstrating that the Loire was not dry, calling alarming reports “not true.”
A man who identified himself as Thibault Laconde, an engineer with Centrale Supelec – France’s top engineering graduate school – posted a series of analytical posts explaining that the river is in fact “not dry.”Even though the river flows are indeed quite steady, it is not impossible to admit that. “at its lowest since 1976,”Laconde claimed that photographs showing “a dead arm”a river can lead to unneeded “dramatization.”
Je vous confirme oui.Pour voir les 2 bras : photos prises du côté pont de Varades, puis du côté du pont de Saint-Florent-le-Vieil ce dimanche. pic.twitter.com/jCY73I8ORF
— Estelle Palussière (@estellepalussi5) August 11, 2022
Fraser was one of few who acknowledged their error after the responses.
Tony, you’re right, there’s much more water in the southern branch of the Loire at that point (the part of crossed by pont de Saint-Florent-le-Vieil). Didn’t realise this when I posted the original photo. https://t.co/GxwauafVeB
— Ian Fraser (@Ian_Fraser) August 11, 2022
Europe is facing a severe drought, which has caused the water levels in the continent’s major rivers to decline dramatically. The source of the River Thames in the UK was said to be drying up more downstream than it ever has before.
On Friday, Germany’s Rhine River water levels were expected to dip below 40cm. Italy’s longest river, the Po, saw water completely disappearing from some of its tributaries upstream of the city of Turin.
France’s Loire river isn’t the only one causing concern. The water in the Rhone and Garonne rivers is reportedly too warm to effectively cool the nuclear reactors at the nation’s power plants.
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