Video Shows Relationship between Damming Rivers and Climate Change
International Rivers and Friends of the Earth International have teamed up to create a state-of-the-art Google Earth 3-D tour and video narrated by Nigerian activist Nnimmo Bassey, winner of the prestigious Right Livelihood Award. The production was launched on the first day of the COP17 climate meeting in Durban, South Africa. The video and tour allow viewers to explore why dams are not the right answer to climate change by learning about topics such as reservoir emissions, dam safety and adaptation while visiting real case studies in Africa, the Himalayas and the Amazon.
The Durban climate meeting is themed "saving tomorrow today." Yet a global dam boom being promoted by dam proponents—including dozens of megadams proposed for Africa’s major rivers—could make a mockery of this vision. "Healthy rivers are becoming an endangered species because of the impacts of large dams," said Jason Rainey, executive director of International Rivers. "There is no ‘tomorrow’ without rivers—we can’t adapt to a changing climate without them."
"Many African nations are dangerously dependent on hydropower, yet new dams are being built without any analysis of how climate change could affect their economic viability or their safety," said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International and narrator of the Google Earth video. "Africa cannot afford dried-up reservoirs or dam collapses on top of the already high costs of adapting to a changing climate. We must develop climate-safe energy systems that improve lives, share the development wealth and help us all weather the coming storm."
Watch the video below and take action to protect rivers from climate change and dams:
Download the Google Earth Tour by clicking here.
Using state of the art animation, the Google Earth production illustrates three key reasons that large dams are the wrong response to climate change:
- River flows are increasingly unpredictable. Large dams have always been based on the assumption that future stream-flow patterns will mirror those of the past, but this is no longer true. Climate change has begun to significantly and unpredictably change precipitation patterns. More frequent droughts will make many hydropower projects uneconomic. More extreme rainfall will increase the risk of dam failures and catastrophic flood releases.
- Healthy rivers are critical for supporting life on Earth. Big dams make it harder for people and ecosystems downstream of dams to adapt to climate change by reducing water quality and quantity, drying up forests and wetlands, flooding productive land and destroying fisheries.
- Dam reservoirs emit greenhouse gases, especially in the tropics. Dam reservoirs are a globally significant source of one of the most potent gases, methane. Meanwhile, free-flowing rivers play a crucial role in helping trap carbon.
The tour illustrates how melting glaciers in the Himalayas—an effect of climate change—may lead to higher flood and safety risks for communities living downstream of dams. The tour plunges the viewer deep inside one of Brazil's dirtiest reservoirs, at the Tucuruí Dam, to visualize how rotting organic material creates methane gas, which bubbles up from dam reservoirs to emit greenhouse gases. The tour visualizes what smaller, decentralized projects would look like—an approach that could more efficiently meet energy and water needs in Africa, while also reducing the economic risks of drought-crippled dams and protecting life-giving rivers.
- Take action—10 Ways to Protect Rivers from Climate Change and Dams
- Read our fact sheet, Wrong Climate for Big Dams
- Read our report, World Bank, Climate Change, and Energy Financing: Something Old, Something New?
- Explore a map of 151 dams planned for the Amazon Basin
For more information, click here.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
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