Kyoto – A Perspective (Part 13)

Posted on Sat 04/19/2008 by



Sometimes my cynicism spills over into outright sarcasm, so I hope you can distinguish that it is actually sarcasm, and then forgive me this shortcoming.
Why I say that is that in the last piece I mentioned that there are some down sides to hydroelectricity.
To highlight this, I’ll draw your attention to where I mentioned the list of large hydro schemes under construction, and also those proposed for the next seven years.
Did you see some sort of trend there?
Twenty five of the thirty five are from China, and none are from the US, and in fact, there is only one from a ‘non’ developing country, Canada.
None from the US.
That would be because of the down sides then, I suppose.

A government sees the need for a cheap non polluting way of generating electricity, and has their engineers find the perfect place.
They then come right out and tell the public.
From that point it’s all down hill.
The green lobby environmentalists fall all over themselves in the rush to make the public aware of those down sides.
They come from thousands of miles away in numbers. The local people who will benefit in a number of ways from the hydro plant will be exhorted to join them in their protest, against what is patently environmental vandalism on a huge scale.
Poor little animals like the endangered left handed bluto fish and that poor endangered yellow speckled small eared skipping frog will be trucked out as moving from the highly endangered list to the extinct list just because this dam will be built.
The ten or so families who might be displaced and relocated because they are living where the water backed up behind the dam will be used by those environmentalists as pawns examples of how jack booted unsympathetic authorities will stomp all over their human rights just to make money.

Other than that, some of the other down sides pointed out will be the following.
The dam has now effectively stopped fish from migrating up river to spawn, and if extra millions are spent to put in fish steps, (something the Chinese wouldn’t think of) then the problem stemming from that is that if the fish do get upstream, they now have the problems of going through the rotating blades of death turbines on the way back to the ocean.
Then there is the problem of the rotting trees and vegetation as they are flooded by the rising water. They release methane as they rot under the water, and this is a much more volatile green house gas than dull old carbon dioxide, bubbling up to the surface and being released into the atmosphere, secretly and in the dead of night.
Then the environmentalists would also have us believe that hydro electric power is an even greater producer of that dreaded carbon dioxide greenhouse gas because as the rotting vegetation is further shredded by the turbines, it releases those greenhouse gases in a more concentrated form that those filthy coal fired plants.
These same environmentalists will then also tell us that the scouring action of the water released from the dams will cause erosion further downstream. There’s also the fact that what was once considered flood water bringing much needed silt downstream will now not happen as those flood waters are held back.
Wait a minute. Isn’t the fact that it is holding back flood waters a good thing.

No, governments are not stupid any more, because governments consist of that one big ingredient, politicians. Once elected they have this innate ability to want to stay in office at all costs. So, they know that the only outcome of announcing a huge dam to supply hydro power to an electricity grid straining under the load will result in only one thing. They will be booted out of office when the greens crawl all over it as an environmental disaster.

These down sides may be just that, and they may or even may not be proven, but surely, when compared to coal fired plants, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

Besides providing electric power at a rate far cheaper than any other form of production, there is the benefit of flood mitigation, the benefit of certainty of irrigation for surrounding farms, an alternative water supply for the local area, and contrary to what the environmentalists would have you believe, they might actually become a tourist attraction, bringing tourist dollars to local areas, with boating, fishing, and other water activities on the resultant lake, similar to Lake Mead, backed up behind The Hoover Dam on the Colorado at Black Canyon.

I can just see the environmentalists in their thousands demonstrating in China. No they know where they can be heard the loudest. In the Western World.

That’s why twenty five huge hydro power plants are in construction or planning in China and not one is even being considered as far off on the horizon in the US. They probably don’t have near as much ‘feedback’ from environmentalists as you might see in the US.

I mentioned in the last piece that here in Australia we have arguably the greatest hydro scheme on the Planet, The Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme. Imagine plans for that being drawn up today. It wouldn’t get past the hypothetical idea stage. Thank heavens they started it in 1949, and finished it in 1974. The surveyors wouldn’t even be called in today.

No, far sighted men with vision need to scout out areas on the Eastern side of the Rockies looking for places to build something like this. Find an area up in the snow melt line and build a something similar. The electricity will supply millions and have subsidiary benefits far beyond the black sooty bombsite of a coal fired plant. Make it a National Park with hiking trails, cabins, boating, fishing, all those things we have on our Snowy Scheme. People come just to see the engineering marvel, and all they see are lovely lakes in pristine settings. Nobody loses, and on top of it all, cheap electrical power.
It can be done because it has already been done in the Snowy’s.

Governments have to have the will to do it. The cost will be comparable with the other renewables, wind and solar, and the secondary benefits make it an attractive proposition.

The trouble is that vision has been silenced by loud mouthed trouble makers who protest for the sake of protesting and cannot see the good when it’s plonked down in front of them.

No, politicians will not even blink when a plan for a hydro power plant is placed on the table in front of them. That’s something they know they cannot sell.

You may notice I have included three links in this article. The two references regarding the Snowy Hydro scheme open two different sites. I urge you to have a look at them and then perhaps to link to the other sites within those articles.

Also, with respect to the two animals I mentioned as being on the extinct list. You won’t find them anywhere, because, even though you might think of them as now being extinct, they never existed in the first place. I made them up so as not to offend the delicate sensitivities of our good friends, those kind hearted. well meaning environmentalist who are only looking out for the rest of us.