Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sinking Rivers, Dams, and Future Environmental Disasters

One more reason dams are not the solution to energy needs:

Most of the world's major river deltas are sinking, increasing the flood risk faced by hundreds of millions of people, scientists report.

Damming and diverting rivers means that much less sediment now reaches many delta areas, while extraction of gas and groundwater also lowers the land.

Rivers affected include the Colorado, Nile, Pearl, Rhone and Yangtze.

Others include the Rio Sao Francisco in Brazil, and the Colorado river. The former is no major surprise; Brazil continues to look to dams (and nuclear energy) as its energy source for the forseeable future, rather than turning to better environmental energy sources like solar and wind power. As for the Colorado, it's particularly problematic for Mexico, because while the delta of the Colorado runs off in Mexico, the U.S. dams and diverts much of the water for its own sources. It would be nice if the U.S. and Mexico could come to some sort of agreement that would witness more equitable water management, but that just won't happen; Mexico doesn't have the international presence of say a Brazil or a China, and there's so little of the river that runs through Mexico that the U.S. probably feels it has the right to all that water; what happens to Mexicans who live near the delta and who will be most impacted by the sinking river basin is of little importance to us. It's harsh, and it's ugly, but that's just how the U.S. thinks and has thought for years when it comes to shared water resources with our southern neighbor, and I don't see it improving any time soon.