Dam Denial

Site C Dam Contruction aerial.

The Site C dam in my province of British Columbia has been approved and our leaders who approved it are not even aware of the issues they should have weighed in the decision.

The effect of this decision will be to keep our planet destroying population and lifestyles going for a little longer, as other non-renewable energy resources deplete.

I do not know if the dam will be good or bad for climate change, but I suspect bad given the CO2 that will be released building it, and its short (20-30 year) operating life due to the need for diesel to maintain it and the grid.

No consideration was given to the correct policies of population reduction, austerity, and conservation.

Denial is amazing!

17 thoughts on “Dam Denial”

  1. Correct, albeit an underestimate. The environmental damage will be terrible and irreversible. Green Party and NDP betrayal (again) of their avowed principles.

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  2. It should be noted that water dams and wind dams – aka turbines – are close cousins, and there’s hypocrisy in rejecting one while praising the other. One puts large generators down low and the other puts (a lot more) smaller generators up high. Between the two, I’ll take water dams, since nature at least makes lakes, but that’s faint praise. Nature’s closest visual match to wind turbines is a tall forest that was bombed and bleached out.

    Both of those dam-types kill wildlife but it’s still considered green to destroy birds & bats. Wind-pushers rationalize it by citing “more bird deaths” from cats and cars but they ignore unique species killed and growing numbers of turbines. A good tip for rebuking their quasi-greenness is to bring up bat deaths, since wind power is Bat Enemy No. 1 now. When presented with that, they’ll launch into speeches about technological mitigation which has been mostly useless. It’s like saying cars will stop generating road-kill if everyone installs ultrasonic whistles.

    On the other hand, killing certain fish, like salmon, interferes with people’s LIVELIHOODS, hence the bigger scorn for water dams in a species context. The only route to saving the planet is to make it financially impractical not to, and there’s a lot more ruin ahead with that mentality.

    http://cutt.us/windschmerz

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      1. You’re very right, but we’ll just keep on waiting for those solutions, and waiting, and waiting….for a crash to trigger some new common sense, which may be forgotten again if “one weird trick” boosts the energy supply again. For me, wind power + shale fracking epitomize that trick and have pacified too many people.

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        1. One critique of your three-fold solution of population reduction, austerity, and conservation: Industrial society requires massive concentrations of capital (which represents concentration, rather than dispersal, or surplus energy). I think you would have to add “increased inequality” to this list for it to be possible. I might also consider heavy rationing under authoritarian government a theoretical possibility. In the latter scenario the difference is that the government is concentrating the inequality by force – surplus going to the government, and everyone broadly doing much worse.

          I think the best we can realistically hope for is that as it becomes clear BAU is over that (1) fighting doesn’t lead to nuclear annihilation, (2) at least some effort is made to share the burden of decline.

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          1. Nuclear and biological weapons are some of the biggest decline phase threats for sure. Hydro electric dams would help slow the decline because the are the longest lived energy source we could possibly invest in. The slower and more gradual the decline the less human suffering I would imagine.

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          2. I agree that almost all technologies used by an advanced civilization require a lot of up front capital. This led to the need for a lot of debt. And debt led to the need for economic growth. And economic growth led to our current state of severe human overshoot. With population control perhaps we could have kept the game going for much longer, but in the end advanced technology must end due to its dependence on non-renewable resources and the improbability of making fusion work.

            I think wealth inequality is a separate issue. I wrote more about that here:
            https://un-denial.com/2016/06/27/what-would-a-wise-society-do/

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  3. Just to be clear, by “solution” I only mean a slow collapse/transition rather than a fast collapse. I don’t think inequality is an entirely separate issue – since it is directly related to surplus energy flows and what is done with them. In your linked article I wonder how wisdom is related to scapegoating/externalizing costs. It seems to me that a wise (yet unscrupulous) society would try to pass off risks on others -mutatis mutandis, different social classes will try to channel a disproportionate burden of a shared responsibility onto lower classes.

    This is problematic, because even greenies tend to assign a disproportionate amount of blame onto the wealthy – which I argue is irrational. “They burn twelve barrels of oil a year, but I only burn 9!”

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    1. I should have elaborated that wealth inequality is inherent to our genetic behavior (genes compete for finite resources to maximize replication) , economic system design (it takes capital to make capital), and the policies (QE, ZIRP, corporation rights) we’ve implemented to keep the game going a little longer.

      Surplus energy affects wealth inequality by creating more wealth for us to be unequal about.

      You are right that blame is irrational and will only make things worse.

      To improve the outcome of our predicament we need broad understanding and awareness, which in turn requires us to break through our inherited denial, which in turn requires us to understand Varki’s theory, which in turn is improbable and makes this a really nasty predicament.

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      1. Yeah, moving from insistence on a “brighter future” to the concept of “harm reduction” requires reducing denial. It’s a real pickle – techno optimism helps people repress the fear of death.

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  4. Hydroelectric dams emit a billion tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, study finds

    Impact of dams on climate change has been underestimated, researchers warn, as rotting vegetation creates 25% more methane than previously thought

    “Researchers found that rotting vegetation in the water means that the dams emit about a billion tonnes of greenhouse gases every year. This represents 1.3% of total annual anthropogenic (human-caused) global emissions.

    When considered over a 100-year timescale, dams produce more methane than rice plantations and biomass burning, the study showed.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/nov/14/hydroelectric-dams-emit-billion-tonnes-greenhouse-gas-methane-study-climate-change

    The humans are incapable of changing their behaviour which is a product of evolution.

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    1. Wow, very interesting. Everything we do has consequences. Fewer people leading more modest lifestyles means less consequences. But then, as you say, we’d need to find a way to override what our genes want to do.

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  5. Glaciers, BC Hydro’s Melting ‘Batteries’

    Scientists are trying to figure out how rising temps will change the alpine run-off that helps power the province.

    https://thetyee.ca/News/2012/02/06/Glacier-Hydro/

    When the glaciers go: Hydroelectric vulnerability and climate change

    http://theclimateexaminer.ca/2016/04/21/when-the-glaciers-go-hydroelectric-vulnerability-and-climate-change/

    Some BC glaciers will be gone by 2070 or even earlier if major, already underway, feed backs speed up. Problems will start long before that.

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  6. Rob, I have been called a hopeless doomer by hundreds, but my views are based on reality and evidence of what we have done and are doing and many years of studying as much as I can on human behavior via evolutionary theory .

    This is why I paid attention when I first saw you blog which features a big piece of the puzzle.

    For the sake of my family I really wish there was a way to dial down this insatiable reward seeking, but there isen’t. We are what we are.

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