CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME events have recently been very much in the news, most recently in Australia. Not long after we published our feature on the Murray River, we see the country suffering almost simultaneously record heat in the south and catastrophic floods in the north. Last October, torrential floods took lives and wreaked unprecedented devastation on the Canal du Midi at Trèbes. The photo of hire boats washed up on the quayside is dramatic. Climate change was also a key focus of the highly successful World Canals Conference in Athlone. From the opening keynote presentation by Catherine Sheridan, explaining how the New York’s Mohawk River dams can be managed differently to mitigate the impacts of severe flooding, to the closing speech by Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins (p. 6), warning that ‘anthropogenic climate change threatens all of us’, we now have to face the reality that inland waterways are critical to a very large proportion of the Earth’s population.

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