Ancient Rivers

“What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Hal Boyle, Pulitzer prize-winning columnist

Water

Rivers have been with us for millions of years; their age is estimated by the mountains from which they come and the sea to which they flow.  When a river dissects a mountain range, this suggests that it existed prior to the mountains. What I have found through my limited research is that there is  debate on which river is the oldest.

According to one source, the Meuse River rising in France and flowing through Belgium and Netherlands to the North Sea is considered to be the oldest river in the world.  The Yangtze River that runs from the Tanggula Mountains, Qinghai to the East China Sea, is the second oldest and, at 6,300 kilometers, the third longest in the world.  In third place and fourth place, according to age, is The Kanawha River (aka New River) and the Sasquehanna River, both of which dissect the Appalachian Mountains.   The Nile takes fifth position, the Rhine sixth and the Amazon seventh.  According to some geologists, the Kanawha/New River is the one of the oldest, second only to the Nile.  And to add complexity, a recent study has just mapped a network, perhaps the oldest, of ancient rivers and streams that once flowed beneath Australia’s Simpson Desert.

We take great delight in numerical positioning, yet the overriding consideration is that rivers, which have been functioning for millennia, are in grave danger.  The risk goes beyond water extraction to include disruptive dams and channels, pollution and climate changes.    Yet, there is hope.  We can start thinking differently.  As individuals, we can make small changes that lead to a groundswell.  As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

33 Comments

  1. nice food for thought! i love your ‘early morning’ posts; they arrive around 1 in the morning here in ecuador, and remind me that it’s time to go to sleep!

    have been working on the ‘compass’ on the bodega floor.. it’s going well. a wash is drying, but i think i’ll call it a night!

    thanks for pointing us to the great video. wow. i work with a coffee company and will send him this link!

    z

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    1. Clanmother says:

      And to think that it is almost 12 midnight in Vancouver when I am reading this!!! I love being in a global community. Looking forward to seeing the finished “compass.” Thanks for stopping by!!! 🙂

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  2. friendlytm says:

    This is interesting! Thank you for the information, Rebecca.. Now I know Yangtze is the second oldest river on earth. As ancient civilization usually flourished around
    the areas where rivers were, I am surprised that the Ganges River was not in. The Mekong River that runs along Tibet Plateau to Thailand and Cambodia, also has great significance in the growth of ancient cultures. Your post has aroused my curiosity for further exploration. Perhaps you would tell us more in your next post. Thank you for another excellent post !

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Hi Denise! I share your surprise. Sometimes we connect the beginning of a civilization with a river, as if the river started out from that point. I never imagined that North America’s rivers would be considered some of the oldest. I am learning as I go along!!!

      Humanity is egocentric. Our world was here long before our arrival!!

      “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
      ― Mark Twain

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  3. renxkyoko says:

    My LIKE button doesn’t work… LIKED !

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you for taking the time to “like” my post. You made my day! 🙂

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  4. Dina says:

    Thanks for this inspiring post to go with my morning coffee in Norway! 🙂

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    1. Clanmother says:

      I love my morning coffee – starts my day, especially when I share the moment with a friend. 🙂

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      1. Dina says:

        Yes, so it is! 🙂

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  5. Dina says:

    p.s
    thanks for the video!

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    1. Clanmother says:

      You’re welcome. I think that we are thinking differently – and there are a great many who are choosing to respect our environment. It is a conversation that continues to grow… 🙂

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  6. Gallivanta says:

    Fascinating to learn about the ages of rivers. The video is an excellent reminder that we need to rethink our ideas. At one time, there was talk about putting water footprint information on goods we buy but I don’t think the matter has gone beyond talk. Also there is a limit to how much information can be squeezed on to a product label. I already have trouble trying to see and understand what is on labels!

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    1. Clanmother says:

      I spend most of my shopping time with my glasses off so that I can read the label. I just discovered an iPhone/Android app that provides information on GMO-free food. I have attached the link to the article!!! What will they think of next!!!!???

      http://www.organicauthority.com/foodie-buzz/no-excuses-4-mobile-phone-apps-for-to-keep-you-gmo-free-for-non-gmo-month.html

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      1. Gallivanta says:

        I think it will be a microchip that fits on our tongue which can sense what is bad for us and cause us to pause before we swallow. “Warning , warning, you are about to ingest a GMO, energy and water footprint heavy, non sustainable, etc etc food…. Do you wish to continue to ingest?”

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      2. Clanmother says:

        I laughed out loud when I read your comments!!! Did you know that it is the International Year of Quinoa?

        http://www.fao.org/quinoa-2013/en/

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      3. Gallivanta says:

        I did not! Strangely, as I was whizzing through the supermarket this afternoon, I noticed some quinoa, in bright packaging, and for that magical 10 secs, (or whatever time it is that we take to decide on a purchase) I thought about buying some, but I decided not to this time.

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      4. Clanmother says:

        It has a very different taste, but I find it to be rather enjoyable. And it is great for anyone that has high blood sugar. There is interesting debate surrounding the production etc. I will need to do a mini-research project…

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  7. fournier0917 says:

    Be careful… as Hal Boyle said, of the river, “and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else”. Anywhere else than nature destined it to go that is. But big business and their chosen elected government pawns will stop at nothing to divert it and flood lands and the destruction of natural habitats to achieve their ends, of greed for profit.

    If you have any doubt about feeding that greed, check out the known government destruction of 115 rivers in the province of Quebec, Canada alone, as of 2009. available on Internet web site reference, “Chercher le Courant”. You can go on Google to have it translated into English, and it’s truly worth it, if you wish to be well informed. Fore warned is forearmed… JJ

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    1. Clanmother says:

      “and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else” That was exactly the phrase that stuck in my mind! I agree wholeheartedly – forewarned is forearmed. Thank you for the recommendation to watch “Chercher le Courant” – much appreciated!

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  8. Interesting post, Rebecca! I didn’t know that the Muese (or Maas, as it’s called here) is one of the oldest rivers (or, could even be, THE oldest) 🙂 Good quote by M. Mead!

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    1. Clanmother says:

      And you are the lucky person who can witness the waters flowing past you….

      I confess, I didn’t even know it existed before I started my mini-research project. It seems that we know our local rivers. In B.C., we have the Columbia, the Fraser, the Skeena and Kootenay Rivers. And we even have a river called “The Peace River.” Your comments are appreciated!!!

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  9. The history, stories, these ancient rivers could tell were they to gush words. I’ve a deep respect for their beauty, that they travel their own until forces stop them. The same forces that most likely stop us. I love water, rivers, oceans, what inhabits most of this body of mine.

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Beautifully said – a wonderful benediction to our conversation. As I was reading about rivers, I came across a quote by Tina Tuner, which I think you would find interesting. It confirms that there are many stories that flow from rivers!

      “I heard stories from my mother’s mother who was an American Indian. She was spiritual, although she did not go to church, but she had the hum. She used to tell me stories of the rivers.”

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  10. Fascinating to ponder on how the age of a river might be measured. You are right that there is something of great comfort to be had from the might of a great river. I used to work on the banks of the River Thames and now work next to the River Tyne. Neither compare to the likes of the Yangtze etc in size of course, but their ebb and flow helps with presence, calm and mindfulness.

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    1. Clanmother says:

      I just found a book by Peter Ackroyd called “Thames: Sacred River” which is a history of the river from source to sea from prehistoric times to present. I found the audio-book so am going to put that on my “to read” list. I read his book, “Shakespeare: The Biography.” Ackroyd He is very detailed. I understand he even goes into the river’s flora and fauna that over the centuries, as well as the geology, smells and colours. And that doesn’t included the literature, laws and landscapes. It will probably take weeks to finish! But it will be an exciting ride….

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      1. Yes, I’ve not read his books but he is highly acclaimed & often brings out fascinating TV programmes to accompany book publications. You will enjoy, I think…

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      2. Clanmother says:

        I know what I’m in for – lots and lots and lots of detail. Peter Ackroyd is prolific!!! 🙂

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  11. That’s really shocking to see how much water goes into making one coffee!!! 😯 It might be easier if we all just had a glass of water instead! And of course, the same applies to many other foods and products we eat and use every day – quite mind blowing really, we are expensive creatures! 🙂

    WordPress seem to have fixed the problems – at least where I am anyway. I have the freedom of making comments on all blogs now!! Fingers crossed, it stays that way! 😉

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    1. Clanmother says:

      You’re back- wonderful to hear that everything is getting back to normal and that you are able to make comments! I have missed you! I will keep my fingers crossed on this side of the globe. As for my morning coffee – I share your surprise – I had no idea how much water went into a latte! 🙂

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  12. Ms Frances says:

    What a exciting, educational and interesting post. Loved every word.

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Thanks!! And I love receiving your encouraging comments!! 🙂

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