Ήδη ο Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης Βαρθολομαίος βρίσκεται στη Νέα Ορλεάνη, όπου, με Εισήγησή του, εγκαινιάζονται οι εργασίες του εν πλω Συμποσίου, διοργανούμενου από τον Οργανισμό "Θρησκεία, Επιστήμη και Περιβάλλον". Συμμετέχουν σημαντικοί παράγοντες των ανά τον κόσμο οικολογικών κινήσεων, επιχειρηματίες, θεολόγοι, πάμπολλοι επιστήμονες, δημοσιογράφοι από τα μεγαλύτερα πρακτορεία ειδήσεων.
The Mississippi River
The Mississippi River has a total length of 3778 km and runs through 10 states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana).
Its source is Lake Itasca located in Clearwater County, Minnesota and it empties into the Gulf of Mexico about 160 km downstream from New Orleans. Part of the Jefferson-Missouri-Mississippi river system, it is the largest water system in Northern America and among the largest in the world. The river is divided into the upper Mississippi, from its source to the Ohio River, and the lower Mississippi, from the Ohio to its mouth into the sea.
The Mississippi has the third largest watershed in the world (exceeded only by the Amazon River and the Congo River). It drains 41% of the Continental United States. The drainage basin covers more than 3,225,000 km2.
The Mississippi valley was first settled by numerous Native American tribes, such as the Ojibwa, Winnebago, Fox, Chickasaw, Natchez and Yazoo, who traded with one another, farmed the floodplains, fished the waters and gave the river its name (in Alonquian Misi sipi means ‘Big water’).
The first Europeans to navigate the river were Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century followed a century later by French explorers and missionaries. The French were also the first to establish settlements in the Mississippi valley, founding several cities including New Orleans and St Louis.
In 1811 the arrival of powered vessels on the Mississippi was marked by the maiden voyage of the first steamboat, the New Orleans, which travelled the full length from the Ohio River to New Orleans.
In 1824, the US Army Corps of Engineers became involved with waterways and is still responsible, through its Civil Works Program, for the management and development of water resources in the United States. In 1879, Congress established the Mississippi River Commission (composed of Army and civilian experts) to create a comprehensive plan to facilitate navigation and prevent destructive flooding. One of the measures taken was the construction of a vast system of levees in order to limit flood damage. These levees mostly succeeded in restraining flood flows, but in both the devastating inundations of 1927 and that of1993, many levees gave way and large areas were flooded. Hydrologists believe that the floods may even have been worsened by the levees. There has been criticism too that the levee system has disrupted natural processes such as seasonal flooding and the flow of run-off, starving the ecosystems behind the levees of nutrients, sediments and fresh water.
The Mississippi River plays a key role in the US economy. Many cities began life along the Mississippi and continue to depend on the river for their economic base. The river transports 15% of the nation’s total freight movement at just 2 % of the cost. About 282 million of freight tons are carried each year, the most important cargoes being bulk items such as coal, petroleum products, sand, gravel and grain. New Orleans is the country’s second largest port and a hub of international trade.
Agriculture is the number one industry along the Mississippi. The main crops are poultry/eggs, forestry, soybeans, corn, cotton and catfish.