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Hydropower

From The Murder Of Berta Cáceres To Dam Disaster In Uttarakhand

March 2, 2021 was the five year anniversary of the murder of Berta Cáceres, who opposed the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras.  That date was less than one month after the deaths of dozens of people from Tehri Dam disaster in Uttarakhand, India.  The two stories together tell us far more about consequences of the insatiable greed of capitalism for more energy than either narrative does by itself. In addition to being sacred to the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras, the Gualcarque River is a primary source of water for them to grow their food and harvest medicinal plants.  Dams can flood fertile plains and deprive communities of water for livestock and crops.  The Lenca knew what could happen if the company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) were to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque.  As Nina Lakhani describes in Who Killed Berta Cáceres?, the La Aurora Dam, which started generating electricity in 2012 “left four miles of the El Zapotal River bone dry and the surrounding forest bare.”

Reasons To Rethink The Future Of Dams

The tide has shifted on dams. Once a monument to our engineering prowess, there’s now widespread acknowledgment that dam-building comes with a long list of harms. Some of those can be reversed, as shown by the 1,200 dam removals in the past 20 years. But the future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat, decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams produce have a role in our energy transition?

Hydropower Dams Threaten One-Third Of The World’s Freshwater Fish

By Elizabeth Grossman for Earth Island Journal - Three of the world’s most important tropical river basins — the Amazon, the Congo and the Mekong — are experiencing an unprecedented boom in the construction of hydropower dams. According to a paper by more than three dozen scientists from universities, research institutions and conservation organizations around the world, which will be pubished tomorrow in Sciencemagazine, these projects pose a major threat to biodiversity, including to one-third of all the world’s freshwater fish species. The authors say long-term impacts of tropical hydropower projects are rarely assessed adequately and call for better — and more transparent — planning that more accurately evaluates the full costs of these dams.
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