PASADENA, Calif.--. From Berlin we report about the people, companies and organizations that shape our sustainable energy future around the world. ... without the negative ecological impact caused by blocking and degrading an entire watershed. March 01, 2005. Commonly built across a river to store irrigation water and to produce electricity through hydropower, dams have proven to be very useful to humanity.Dams have had such an impact on the world that more than half of the world’s major rivers had dams constructed on them by the end of the 20th Century [1]. Our language is energy transition and that's spoken everywhere. Since then, there has been an ongoing effort and struggle at the same time, as they have witnessed new projects starting each year, projects already in the works despite having no environmental assessments and projects being developed even in protected areas such as national parks. The impoundment of water behind a dam causes the velocity of the water to drop. There are also increased health risks associated with the construction of large dam and reservoir systems, especially in tropical and sub-tropical areas where the disruption of the natural drainage ecologies provides fertile ground for the growth of waterborne disease vectors. Large-scale hydroelectric dams continue to be built in many parts of the world (including China and Brazil), but it is unlikely that new facilities will be added to the existing U.S. fleet in the future. Furthermore, dams lower the climate resilience of riverine communities. Atmospheric Impacts There are numerous atmospheric impacts associated with hydroelectric dams. The whole region has an opportunity to make a step toward a future of lower-impact energy and water sources that, combined with conservation and increased efficiencies, cause less harm to ecosystems, communities and cultures. "That's the dilemma.". If people don't stop ruining, it will mean less amounts of oxygen for all of us. Hydropower constructions have rocketed by 300% across the western Balkans in the last two years. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries. The reservoir effect describes cases where over-reliance on reservoirs increases the potential damage caused by drought and water shortage. "For example, a settlement that depends on an annual flooding of agricultural land when the river rises can be wiped out if the regulated flow of the dam causes the annual flooding to cease.". Slow-moving or still reservoirs can heat up, resulting in abnormal temperature fluctuations which can affect sensitive species. We spoke with her about hydropower constructions and their impact on rivers, as well as the alternatives to this massive environmental problem that sees the blue hearts of our world cease to flow. What can we all do to join the fight and protect the “Blue Heart of Europe”? Contact us here. And all of this is happening at the same time as we are removing dams in Europe and the US and finally recognizing the value of healthy rivers. But world societies and governments would do well to evaluate the consequences of dam construction as an integral part of the planning process, a leading authority writes in a new book. •Dams built on or near the border between two countries may also block the progress of a … Solar and wind power are not only lower impact, but also, often, bring with them more jobs and fewer cost overruns. what do you think all these are, they are simply effects of the environment due to human activities.We are actually destroying the God’s creation. The air we breathed was impregnated with high levels of sulphur dioxide, there was a dead lake in the middle of the city and the surrounding pine forests were dying — none of this mattered. For years, and in particular through the DamNation campaign, Patagonia has been taking a strong position on fighting to protect wild, free-flowing rivers through removing old “deadbeat” dams, and stopping the construction of new dams. Thus, the destruction brought by dams and diversions is both an environmental issue and a human rights issue. As this vegetation is submerged, it begins to decay which results in a build up and release of methane which is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. These effects, and others brought on by dams … As an example of the twisted logic at work, in the south of the Balkans, there are 300 days of sun every year, and yet 98% of the whole country’s electricity relies on hydropower, rather than solar power. The Beam is already being distributed in most countries in Europe, but also in Niger, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Japan, Chile and the United States. Dams: The Human & Environmental Impacts. 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Studies have shown that flooding in dams submerges existing vegetation which over time decays and produces methane gas which is classified to be among the most detrimental greenhouse gasses. Global warming, species extinction, climatic changes, melting of polar icecaps, environment degradation such as air, water pollution. In the Balkans, about 3,000 dam and diversion project plans are being billed as “green power initiatives.” The Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign started in 2012 with Riverwatch and Euronatur — organizations undertaking the first research on these 35,000 river kilometers. Poaches also kill 60-70% of animals within the rainforest. Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Perhaps most inspiring to us have been the stories of local communities fighting to protect their rivers. This is why we cannot turn a blind eye to the damming of the last wild rivers in Europe. For centuries, dams have been built for flood control, irrigation, municipal water supply and power production. What would be a better alternative than hydropower to provide cheap and clean energy to the people in this region? This section will examine mostly the large dams: flood control and hydroelectric dams. Downstream from dams, farmers can benefit from a steady year-round water flow. Hydroelectric power includes both massive hydroelectric dams and small run-of-the-river plants. And since 2012, Patagonia has been supporting the Save the Blue Heart campaign in Europe, with the aim to protect 35,000 km of rivers in the Balkans from diversion projects, many of which don’t have proper environmental assessments and are developed in protected areas including national parks. And in terms of the latter, changing habitat caused by the flooding of land behind and below dams is certain to change the habits of nearby humans and animals alike--if not devastate both. Dams threaten all of the above. Because the river no longer carries any sediment, the erosive potential of the river is increased. Building the dam in a large area will depress the earth’s surface. Some of these dams were in danger of failure, others had become functionally obsolete because their reservoirs had filled with sediment, and a few were removed to restore the rivers’ ecosystems. "Lots of people in many places in the world are dependent on the natural flow of rivers, and the consequences can be the sort of things you might not normally even take into account," he says. A recent study conducted by researchers from Utah and Colorado State Universities at Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River provides some insight into how to best mitigate the negative impact that dams have on the environment, including proposing a new management method to reduce the impact of hydropeaking — a practice that is commonly used by hydropower dams, which has a negative … And over the upcoming months, we want to mobilize people to take notice of what is going on in the Balkan region and go forward with action by signing the petition at, and attending a Blue Heart film screening in their area. What is the impact of hydropower development on rivers in general? A key impact relates to the flooding of land that can be home to significant levels of vegetation. Review copies of the book are available from Earthscan Sales and Marketing Administrator Michael Fell by e-mailing him at or calling +44 (0)20 7121 3154. CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused news & analysis website in the US & the world, focusing primarily on electric cars, solar energy, wind energy, & energy storage. Negative environmental impacts of dams can occur upstream, downstream, and in reservoirs. Large-scale hydroelectric dams continue to be built in many parts of the world (including China and Brazil), but it is unlikely that new facilities will be added to the existing U.S. fleet in the future. Later on, I worked in China for years, through rising consumerism and thirst for resources, developing environmental programs for companies and schools. And in an era of climate change, hydropower is a risky and insecure energy source that’s deeply vulnerable to increasingly severe droughts and floods. Dams: the human and environmental impacts. Dams and reservoirs are synonymous with hydropower production. The book, The Future of Large Dams, is the latest work by California Institute of Technology anthropologist Thayer Scudder, who is arguably the world's foremost expert on the impact of dam construction on human societies living along major world rivers. However, dams and their reservoirs have been linked to global warming. An issue seen in other areas is the flooding from beaver dams impair drainage systems or cause trouble with wells. A dam creates a reservoir to provide freshwater to a growing town. They actively contribute to climate change, through significant emission of greenhouse gases from reservoirs.