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Global Warming and European Logistics

Global warming results in increased volatility in weather, including severe storms, unpredictable temperatures, and fluctuations in precipitation. Throughout North America, logistics companies are dealing with severe winter storms, summers of hurricanes, and destructive forest fires. Across the pond, logistics companies in Europe are facing another aspect of global warming; important shipping rivers are running low.

The Rhine, for example, connects Rotterdam to Germany and Switzerland and represents one of the most important shipping channels in Europe. Due to steadily decreasing ice melts, the river is being fed with less and less water each summer. In 2018, the water levels in the Rhine were so low that they impacted the ability of barges to move up and down the river with full loads, meaning fewer items reached their destinations each time. Products such as gasoline ran low or even ran out in certain cities along the Rhine due to the severe shipping limitations.

Efforts to combat global warming are continuing to increase among many nations, but improvements are slow going. It is clear that we will continue to feel the effects of global warming, in the form of reduced river flow or volatile weather, for many years to come. Countries along the Rhine are in the midst of identifying and executing backup plans, to reduce the impact of the river running low in future years. These mitigations include improvements to rail and roadway channels so that products have alternate channels through which to move.

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