Dams have long been relied upon as defences against flooding, supplying renewable and low-carbon energy (hydroelectricity) and water storage, but recently, questions have been raised over their sustainability. The high pricing of the structures has been widely acknowledged and accepted; previously, benefit-cost analysis resulted in worldwide dam systems being readily installed. With climate change and rising sea levels at the forefront of many government agendas, dams proved a sustainable approach to mitigate the existing global warming impacts of excessive flooding. For example, the controversial £1.85 billion dam in Patagonia, Chile was built despite the landmark’s potential threat to wild deer species and Laguna San Rafael National Park.
Puclaro reservoir, northern Chile
The extent of these detrimental environmental impacts proves an inconvenient truth for many due to the high expenditure of redesigning such structures; despite hesitations about dam-induced flooding, Professor Richard Harding from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) declares “The physics [of dams] says that it will happen”. (Source: BBC)
By Ellen Kane, Action 21 volunteer