The impact of hydroelectric dams

Amidst an abundance of power source alternatives, it’s hard to know exactly which ones are good and which are bad. While some methods may provide service to nearby towns and communities, they can also do harm to the environment in a number of ways.

After trying to decide which I thought was the most beneficial I decided that there is no perfect answer to society’s needs.

As proved by nature, diversity is always the most effective course if the ultimate goal is to achieve the least amount of negative outcomes.

Diversity is everywhere. In nature the best and most sustainable regions are always filled with a variety of plant and animal species.

Diversity can be found in communities which offers uniqueness, cultures and languages to explore. It goes even deeper, showing its importance through one’s diet. Every fragment that makes up this diverse world plays its own part in circulating what has been taken, in order to replenish.

Let’s take a look at some of the world’s power source options. First off, there are nuclear power plants. They provide over 11 percent of electricity worldwide. This may sound like a small portion but with the billions of people that are serviced, it turns out to be a big chunk of the population. Nuclear power plants are one of the most reliable methods, running at an incomparable capacity rate of 93 to 95 percent over long periods of time. A small uranium pellet, no bigger than a stick of butter, can supply heat for up to five years.

Despite the convenience of this practice it is one of the most damaging. This nonrenewable source of energy has a very high risk factor for devastating disasters. Even the smallest leakage of radiation can be disastrous. The radioactive waste produced is extremely hard to store and continues to emit radiation for outrageous periods of time. The waste is typically buried, further contaminating the surrounding sand and water.

Hydroelectric dams are another means of producing energy. They are more prevalent than nuclear reactors, and provide around 16 percent of the world’s electricity. This is one of the more renewable options, since they use water flowing down rivers as fuel. The water builds up in a reservoir and then gets released back into the river, so it eventually returns to its original path. The flexibility and control over the flow helps to conserve energy when it is not needed.

Once the hydroelectric plant is built, there are no emissions that pollute the water and air. The process of building these massive dams can take up to 8 years, and with construction comes pollution.

The alterations to the soil and topography can affect certain processes within the ecosystem. Changes are also seen in the temperature of the water that is built up. The water in the reservoir warms up enough that it becomes uninhabitable for various fish populations. Aquatic life is also restrained from moving up and down the river, keeping them from reproducing.
These aren’t the only examples. There are other alternatives, like wind turbines, solar panels, tidal energy, biomass energy, natural gas and coal. Each have advantageous qualities that make them appealing. Still, with every gain there is a setback to match.

It seems that no matter how we try to make our society run, there will always be negative outcomes that follow. I think that it is vital, to our society and environment, to find that balance between the energy sources in a way that doesn’t cause excessive amounts of disruption in one area. When there’s too much investment put toward one method, its effects amplify, good or bad. That balance can disperse negative impacts on wildlife and the Earth, lessening the devastation of all the regions affected. So instead of trying to figure out which is the best and worst, there needs to be an increase in diversification before more irreversible and permanent damage is cause to the world.