Tag Archives: Dams

Dammed Rivers Create Hardship for Brazil’s Native Peoples

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Tucuruí Dam spillway, Tocantins River, Brazil (Eneida Castro). Brazilian researchers estimated in 2007 that methane from dams is responsible for around 4% of human-caused global warming. Greenhouse gases, primarily methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), are emitted from the surface of the reservoir, at turbines and spillways, and for tens of kilometers downstream. Emissions are highest in hot climates. Captions and Photo source: ©© International Rivers

Excerpts;

Indigenous community searches for new livelihoods , after the Itaparica dam on the São Francisco river cut them off from traditional agriculture and fishing, formely based on the regular seasonal rises in the river level…

Read Full Article, IPS News

Chilean Patagonia: a Way of Life Under Threat by Dams (Uploaded 05-10-2011)

Yale 360 Video: Belo Monte Dam Controversy (Uploaded 07-17-2012)

New Global Warming Culprit: Dams (Uploaded 08-08-2012)
Washington State University researchers have documented an underappreciated suite of players in global warming: dams, the water reservoirs behind them, and surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down…

“We Were Once Three Miles From the Sea”

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Photo source: ©© Melanie Kotsopoulos

Excerpts;

Grain by grain, West Africa’s coasts are eroding away, the dry land sucked under the water by a destructive mix of natural erosion and human meddling…

Nyani Quarmyne has poignantly photographed the impacts of climate change on people living on the Ghana coast.

He shows us some of the people in the ruins of their houses, which many cannot leave as they have nowhere else to go. Quarmyne makes a point of telling us their names, Numour Puplampo and Vincent Tetteh Teye and others, and meets their eyes through his camera…

WATCH: Photo Gallery: Climate Change: “We Were Once Three Miles From the Sea,” by Nyani Quarmyne

Climate change threatens Ghana’s coast; Al Jazeera
Grain by grain, West Africa’s coasts are eroding away, the dry land sucked under the water by a destructive mix of natural erosion and human meddling…
From Senegal to Nigeria, scientists say eroding beaches will soon pose an unavoidable threat to booming coastal populations. A glimpse of that future can be seen here…

Learn More; Nyani Quarmyne: Climate Change: “We Were Once Three Miles From the Sea”
Images depicting the impacts of climate change on people living near Ada on the Ghana coast…

Art Exhibit,”We Were Once Three Miles From the Sea,” by Nyani Quarmyne; We Face Forward
Quarmyne began to make photographs in 2008 and since then has gained a strong reputation as a documentary photographer, working for many agencies and publications. In the way he works with his subjects over many months and his desire to tell us the whole story, Quarmyne’s work resonates with the Western traditions of documentary photography. His photographs, however, are of West African people with whom he has a cultural and social affinity and whose stories he himself is implicated in. He shows us some of the people in the ruins of their houses, which many cannot leave as they have nowhere else to go. Quarmyne makes a point of telling us their names, Numour Puplampo and Vincent Tetteh Teye and others, and meets their eyes through his camera…

Ghana’s Ongoing Battle Against Coastal erosion, (Uploaded 09-09-2011)

Battling Ghana’s Eroding Coastline, Office Upholds Navy’s Startegic & Humanitarian Focus, US Navy Currents Winter 2010 (Uploaded 12-13-2010)
For Ghana, the real story of coastal erosion is not about what lies at the water’s edge, but what occurs beneath the waves offshore. In the capital city of Accra, an estimated 70 percent of the beach is eroding at rates exceeding 3 feet per year…

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Ghana. Photo source: ©© Floris Van Halm

Indians in Brazil Protest Tapajós Dams

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People of Amazon… Photo source: ©© Neil Palmer/CIAT/CIFOR.
A series of dams are being planned for the Tapajós River, also a major Amazon tributary. The dams would flood national parks, reserves and indigenous lands. Captions: ©© International Rivers.

Excerpts;

Mundurukú Indians made the trek to the capital of Brazil to demand the right to prior consultation in order to block the Tapajós hydroelectric dam, which could flood several of their villages.

The Brazilian government, which is already building the Belo Monte mega-dam on the Xingú river in the northeastern Amazon state of Pará, also wants to construct another huge hydropower complex on the Tapajós river, in the same state…

Read Full Article, IPS News

Tapajós Basin, International Rivers
The Tapajós Basin is a jewel of the Amazon, home to an incredible array of plant and animal biodiversity. A mosaic of protected areas and indigenous lands, the basin is home to approximately 820,000 people, including 10 indigenous groups. The Tapajós and its major tributaries – the Teles Pires, Jamanxim and Juruena rivers – are threatened by an unprecedented series of massive dams and associated industrial waterways (hidrovias) that would flood national parks, indigenous lands and other protected areas, accelerating the destruction of the Amazon Basin…

Yale 360 Video: Belo Monte Dam Controversy, A Yale E 360 Video (Uploaded 07-17-2012)
The Belo Monte dam, now under construction in the Amazon, is heralded as an abundant power source for Brazil’s burgeoning economy. But critics contend the project’s benefits are outweighed by the environmental and social costs, the flooding of 260 square miles of rainforest and the displacement of more than 20,000 people…

Sediment Trapped Behind Dams Makes Them ‘Hot Spots’ for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Science Daily
The large reservoirs of water behind the world’s 50,000 large dams are a known source of methane. Methane has a warming effect 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. That knowledge led to questions about hydroelectric power’s image as a green and nonpolluting energy source…

The Problems With Dams
Dams block sediments going to the ocean, which implies accelerated erosion…

China’s Great Dam Boom: A Major Assault

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Tibetan prayer flags in front of Meili Snow Mountains.
China’s construction of dams on the Lancang (or Upper Mekong) threatens a complex ecosystem downstream that supports over 60 million people in Southeast Asia. Five megadams have already been built, eight are underway, and several more are being planned upstream in Tibet and Qinghai. Guonian Dam, however, was cancelled in early 2012 because, according to the dam developer Hydrolancang, its reservoir would have accelerated glacier melt on the sacred Kawagebo mountain (part of the Meili Snow Mountains). In October 2012, International Rivers went to investigate the current status of dam building on the Lancang River to verify this news. Captions and Photo Source: ©© International Rivers

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China is engaged in a push to build hydroelectric dams on a scale unprecedented in human history. While being touted for producing lower-emission electricity, these massive dam projects are wreaking havoc on river systems across China and Southeast Asia…

Read Full Article Article,Yale E 360

Himalayas to Become The Most Dammed Region In The World, IPS News

Small Dams On Chinese River Harm Environment More Than Expected, study finds, NSF

Sediment Trapped Behind Dams Makes Them ‘Hot Spots’ for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Science Daily

Coastal Erosion Induced by Human Activities: A Northwest Bohai Sea Case Study, Journal of Coastal Research
Using mooring hydrodynamic observation, cross-shore profiles, and topographic-map and satellite-image comparisons, this study shows dramatic coastal erosion on the Qinhuangdao coast (northeast Bohai Sea, China). Sediment starvation induced by dams mainly caused this fast coastal retreat.

China’s Dams, International Rivers
Dammed, diverted and polluted, China’s rivers are reaching an ecological tipping point. China has more large dams than any other country in the world, including the world’s largest – the Three Gorges Dam.

Himalayas to Become The Most Dammed Region In The World

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According to a joint press release issued by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, the great majority of the world’s glaciers appear to be declining at rates equal to or greater than long-established trends. This image from the ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite shows the termini of the glaciers in the Bhutan-Himalaya. Glacial lakes have been rapidly forming on the surface of the debris-covered glaciers in this region during the last few decades. According to Jeffrey Kargel, a USGS scientist, glaciers in the Himalaya are wasting at alarming and accelerating rates, as indicated by comparisons of satellite and historic data, and as shown by the widespread, rapid growth of lakes on the glacier surfaces. Captions and Photo source: NASA

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Most of the Himalayan rivers have been relatively untouched by dams near their sources. Now the two great Asian powers, India and China, are rushing to harness them.

The result, over the next 20 years, “could be that the Himalayas become the most dammed region in the world”…

Read Full Article: “China and India Water Grab Dams Put Ecology Of Himalayas in Danger” Guardian UK

Mountains of Concrete: Dam Building in the Himalayas, International Rivers
There will always be abundant snow and glaciers on the highest mountains of the world, the Himalayas. This snow will always feed the Indus and Ganges rivers and forever supply water to millions of people in South Asia and China. These statements may no longer be true. Our warming climate is changing the Himalayas faster than any other region of the world. The mountains’ mighty glaciers, the source of most large Asian rivers, are melting. Against these dramatic changes, the governments of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan are planning to transform the Himalayan rivers into the powerhouse of South Asia. They want to build hundreds of mega-dams to generate electricity from the wild waters of the Himalayas…

Are Humans Responsible for the Himalayan Tsunami? IPS News

Sediment Trapped Behind Dams Makes Them ‘Hot Spots’ for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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The dried up Yunam river at Sarchu. Captions and Photo source: ©© Jace

Sediment Trapped Behind Dams Makes Them ‘Hot Spots’ for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Dire Consequences of Dam Reservoir Emissions, Petit Saut Reservoir, French Guiana. A growing number of scientific studies indicate that reservoirs, especially in the tropics, are a significant source of global greenhouse gas pollution. The “fuel” for these emissions is the rotting of organic matter from the vegetation and soils flooded when the reservoir is first filled. The carbon in the plankton and plants that live and die in the reservoir, the detritus washed down from the watershed above, and the seasonal flooding of plants along the reservoir fringes, ensure that emissions continue for the lifetime of the reservoir. Captions and Photo source: ©© Frédéric Guérin / International Rivers

Excerpts;

With the “green” reputation of large hydroelectric dams already in question, scientists are reporting that millions of smaller dams on rivers around the world make an important contribution to the greenhouse gases linked to global climate change. Their study, showing that more methane than previously believed bubbles out of the water behind small dams, appears in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology

Andreas Maeck and colleagues point out that the large reservoirs of water behind the world’s 50,000 large dams are a known source of methane. Like carbon dioxide, methane is one of the greenhouse gases, which trap heat near Earth’s surface and contribute to global warming. Methane, however, has a warming effect 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The methane comes from organic matter in the sediments that accumulate behind dams. That knowledge led to questions about hydroelectric power’s image as a green and nonpolluting energy source. Maeck’s team decided to take a look at methane releases from the water impoundments behind smaller dams that store water less than 50 feet deep…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

New Global Warming Culprit: Dams, Science Daily (Uploaded 08-08-2012)
Washington State University researchers have documented an underappreciated suite of players in global warming: dams, the water reservoirs behind them, and surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down.

Small Dams On Chinese River Harm Environment More Than Expected, study finds, NSF
A fresh look at the environmental impacts of dams on an ecologically diverse and partially protected river in China found that small dams can pose a greater threat to ecosystems and natural landscapes than large dams.

methane-emissions-dam-brazil
Tucuruí Dam spillway, Tocantins River, Brazil (Eneida Castro). Brazilian researchers estimated in 2007 that methane from dams is responsible for around 4% of human-caused global warming. Greenhouse gases, primarily methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), are emitted from the surface of the reservoir, at turbines and spillways, and for tens of kilometers downstream. Emissions are highest in hot climates. Captions and Photo source: ©© International Rivers

Removal of Veazie Dam Begins on Maine’s Penobscot River

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Veazie Dam removal. Photo source: Meagan Racey / USFWS

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Today is a big day for dam removal and river restoration. Removal of the Veazie Dam begins on Maine’s Penobscot River, one of the most significant river restoration projects in our country, and a wonderful example of collaboration and “win-win” solutions for the environment and economy.

Because of the threats from existing or proposed dams, American Rivers named the Penobscot one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers every year from 1989 to 1996. After more than a decade of work by American Rivers, the Penobscot Restoration Trust, the Penobscot Indian Nation, and others, the river restoration project kicked off last summer with the removal of Great Works Dam…

Read Full Article, National Geographic

Breaching of dam, restoring salmon’s passage unite many, Boston Globe

Pakistan’s Coast And Encroaching Seas

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The Indus River Delta forms where the Indus River flows into the Arabian Sea in Pakistan.
The delta covers an area of about 41,440 km² (16,000 square miles), and is approximately 210 km across where it meets the sea, and is a large mangrove ecoregion on the Arabian Sea coast. However, since the 1940s, the delta has received less water as a result of large scale irrigation works capturing large amounts of the Indus water before it reaches the delta. Pollution from the industrial city and port of Karachi is a threat to habitats in the delta, as is depletion of the Indus as water is extracted. Most of the Indus delta mangroves have been cleared for firewood and to create grazing land.The result has been catastrophic for both the environment and the local population. Captions: Wikipedia. Photo source: NASA

By IRIN,

On a theoretical level, climate change and sea intrusion are not things Din Muhammad Chandio, a fisherman and farmer, understands much about.

But practically-speaking Chandio has seen them push him deeper into poverty in the town of Keti Bunder in Thatta District on the coast of Pakistan’s Sindh Province.

“I earned a living mainly through fishing, and some farming. Now both are impossible because our lands have become barren due to seawater flowing in. The lack of fresh water flowing down the [Indus] river also means fishing is affected.”

These trends are being studied by the World Wide Fund for Nature Pakistan (WWF-P) which is in the middle of a five-year project to build climate change resistance on Pakistan’s coastline, where communities are vulnerable to cyclones, rising sea levels and storm surges.

According to their baseline study, published last year, encroaching seas are leaving farmland increasingly saline and water-logged, and leading to a decline in fresh water fish stocks.

In one of the villages studied, Kharo Chan, the report’s authors found 45 percent of income declines were a result of the environmental degradation of fisheries, and 65 percent due to the environmental degradation of agricultural land.

The River Indus, which is Pakistan’s longest and runs the length of the country, has seen its flow reduced in recent years by the creation of hydroelectric dams upstream, retreating Himalayan glaciers and poor water management.

In Keti Bunder 77 percent of household heads surveyed in the study depend exclusively on fishing for their livelihood, making them vulnerable to changes in catch sizes.

Chandio said his monthly income had dropped by a third to around US$120 in the past three years, and feeding his family of eight has become increasingly difficult. Seeing the way things were going, his two adult sons recently left to try and find work in Karachi.

“Because of sea erosion, people in areas such as Badin District, Thatta District and so on, have lost homes because the sea has literally taken them away,” Ayub Khaskheli, information secretary of Karachi-based NGO Pakistan Fisher-folks Forum, told IRIN.

” Tahir Qureshi, senior adviser (coastal) for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Karachi, blamed the construction of dams and barrages on the Indus for the sea’s intrusion into the Indus Delta. ”
IRIN

He said that due to the loss of their homes, people were desperate and had in some cases been forced to move further inland or leave coastal areas altogether.

“Crops such as potatoes and vegetables grown by women and used to feed families cannot be cultivated any longer. They simply do not grow in the now barren soil.”

Khaskheli said the fact that seawater had entered drinking water supplies obtained through wells and hand pumps had “also caused many problems for people in these communities”.

Despondency

Environmental journalist Afia Salam told IRIN climate variability had created a “striking despondency among people”.

“The town of Keti Bunder has been relocated three times, having to move inwards because of the encroachment of the sea. The able-bodied young men have left looking for livelihoods elsewhere as agriculture is no more, and marine catch has been severely reduced.”

This sense of despondency exists too in other areas of Thatta, such as Kharo Chan, a `taluka’ (administrative unit) where Shamshad Bibi, the mother of four young children, lives in her village.

“The 10 acres or so of land we had is mainly destroyed. Nothing grows on it because of the salt water. Now we just keep a small herd of goats and my husband tries to fish when he can. There is no future here for my children,” she told IRIN.

Tahir Qureshi, senior adviser (coastal) for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Karachi, blamed the construction of dams and barrages on the Indus for the sea’s intrusion into the Indus Delta.

“So far no scientific work has been done by the academia or national research institutions on sea level rise in order to investigate its contribution to this ecological disaster along the coast of Sindh. Mangroves are the soil binder and are the first defence line against all natural disasters,” he said.

The IUCN has, with other groups, promoted mangrove cultivation to hold back erosion. Mangrove cover along the 350km Sindh coastline is 200,000 hectares, sharply down, according to environmentalists.

“Loss of land will destroy us”

WWF-P says it is working to build both disaster preparedness in coastal communities and help farming and fishing to adapt.

“Communities react through coping measures, e.g. moving inland, or through reactive adaption when they respond to a new situation as it arises. We are trying to promote planned adaption to the change,” said WWF-P’s Bajwa. Modes of adaptation being considered for promotion include changing planting periods and the types of crops farmers grow.

Certainly, people living in coastal areas are desperate to see change come their way.

“The continued loss of land will destroy us. The barley my father and grandfather planted simply does not grow here any longer,” said Hussain Ahmed from his village in Thatta.

“Even fodder for livestock is hard to grow, and the shrimp we used to take to markets in huge baskets have shrunk drastically in number.”

He said that, as a direct result, “there is less food to place on the family table, less money to educate my children and nothing at all for health care. The sea, which once helped us by providing fish, has turned against us and is taking over our lands.”

Original Article, “Pakistan’s coast – where the sea is an enemy not a friend,”IRIN

Miracle at Keti Bunder, Pakistan, by Khan, Rina Saeed (2009-07-10)
The villagers were fast asleep when the sea-water suddenly rose up and a high tide silently flooded their homes. These people are amongst the poorest of the poor in Pakistan, living in wooden shacks on the mud flats of the fan-shaped Indus Delta. They are completely dependent upon fishing for their survival, and this is where the Indus River meets the Arabian Sea. “It was sudden and completely unexpected. No doubt it was because of the global climate change and the lack of fresh water in the delta,” explained Zahid Jalbani, who is the Site Manager for the Indus for All Programme, and is currently mobilizing the local community to take charge of their natural resources…

Are Humans Responsible for the Himalayan Tsunami?

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The confluence of the Alaknanda (stormy, grey) and Bhagirathi (placid, brown) at Devaprayag, forms the Ganga as it heads for the final lap down the mountain before entering the plains. Captions and Photo source: ©© Vm2827

Excerpts;

On Jun. 15, flash floods caused by a cloudburst and glacial leaks swept thousands of unsuspecting pilgrims away in what scientists are now referring to as a ‘Himalayan tsunami’.

For years, a booming tourist industry, made possible by thousands of illegally constructed guesthouses, has spawned massive hydroelectric power projects on the rivers, while other infrastructure development designed to accommodate hoards of visitors has proceeded at a steady clip, putting undue stress on this fragile ecological zone.

Scientists also say the damming of the Ganga, riverbed encroachment and mining activities are wreaking havoc on the region.

According to Mallika Bhanot, member of Ganga Ahvaan, a public forum to save the holy river, about 244 dams are being constructed along the water channel, while only three were cancelled after a 100-km stretch, from the glacial mouth of Gomukh to Uttarkashi town, was declared an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) in December 2012.

The New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has also traced the link between the disaster and the manner in which development has been carried out in this unique region…

Read Full Article, IPS News

1,000 people remain missing almost two weeks after devastating floods struck India’s Himalayan region, Reuters
Dubbed a “Himalayan Tsunami” by the Indian media due to the torrents of water that gushed through Uttarakhand, the floods and landslides swept away buildings and bridges and buried roads.

Hydro Electric Projects on the Alaknanda River Basin, International Rivers

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Gathering to march for a free-flowing Alaknanda River, India, March 22nd, 2013. Captions and Photo source: ©© International Rivers