Saturday, December 10, 2016

Clear Accounting for Dams and Climate Change

Dam on Pinterest (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
“Our climate is warming at an alarming, unprecedented rate and we have an urgent duty to respond,” world leaders concluded at the 22nd United Nations Climate Conference (COP22).  Representatives from almost 200 nations gathered in Morocco from November 7 to 18 for the first global meeting since the Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force.

We should respond with urgency, but also with intelligence.

Today, thousands of large dams are being planned and built around the world.  More than a million dams already block half the rivers on the planet.  Hundreds of hydropower projects are planned or under construction in the Amazon alone.  Many are promoted as clean energy and as solutions to climate change.

But that’s just not true.

Researchers at Washington State University recently concluded that dams are an important source of greenhouse gas emissions.  In addition to carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, dams release large amounts of methane, a gas that traps 34 times more heat than carbon dioxide. The findings were published in the scientific journal Bioscience.

Far from being a solution, dams actually aggravate climate change.

Until now, scientific evidence had suggested that dams in tropical areas emit greenhouse gases.  The WSU study, however, concluded that reservoirs emit greenhouse gases regardless of their latitude or their purpose (power generation, flood control, navigation or irrigation).

The researchers concluded that, globally, reservoirs emit approximately 1.3 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions generated by mankind.

Read more at Clear Accounting for Dams and Climate Change

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