[HCCN] Hydropower dam/reservoir complexes are a global warming (and other) threat

Larry Dansinger larryd at myfairpoint.net
Mon Nov 1 11:48:21 EDT 2021


Now that Dick and Pam have provided some information for Question One, here’s my take.

Other aspects of Question One that are not being discussed very much, if at all, are:

Why is Massachusetts using this corridor and this kind of power as a way to meet its renewable energy requirements? Instead of the state of MA putting up more solar, more wind, more offshore wind, more locally based renewable energy, the state is going for one very large, solves-all-our-needs form of energy. This is an example of trying to overcome nature more than trying to be part of nature, which is a major reason why we are facing climate catastrophe. Putting almost all of its eggs in the Hydro Quebec basket takes Massachusetts off the hook to find or create more renewable resources and to make a greater commitment to serving its residents directly and locally, rather than getting its energy from one big mega-project that has destroyed acres and acres and taken away the land of the Cree Nation. 

Are Massachusetts utilities realistic in their expectation of energy needs, or can they do a lot more to emphasize conservation? How many utilities, or states, have a really robust conservation campaign? Ultimately, I think we should talk much more about using less, not how to meet a higher amount of usage. Doing a lot of local energy projects and reducing energy use helps our energy awareness and is really good for the economy as well. And, as Dick points out, the kind of “renewable energy” that the state is hoping to use isn’t really renewable either.

I’m also looking at what Pam Person wrote. Yes, wind and solar are not perfect solutions either. Yes, there are benefits from the Mills-HQ plan. Yes, Maine may get some financial rewards. 

But, ultimately, we have to say either “yes” or “no” on Tuesday and to any policy proposals that we have no opportunity to contribute to once negotiated. I will say “yes” to this one and oppose the corridor,  because I think small, local renewable energy is better than big corporate energy, even if renewable, being more a part of nature is better than trying to overcome nature (which is why we are approaching climate catastrophe now), and because Massachusetts needs to develop much more its own local renewable energy resources and long term plans. 

Larry Dansinger
(207) 262-3706 or larryd at myfairpoint.net
(No pronouns, not Ms., Mx., or Mr.)




> On Oct 31, 2021, at 11:36 AM, Dick Atlee <atlee at dickatlee.com> wrote:
> 
> In case anyone on this list has been persuaded that hydropower is "green"
> and "sustainable," I'm offering two reality checks (not "fact checks") on
> that topic. I hope these will help to disabuse anyone of the notion that
> voting NO on Question 1 on the CMP Corridor is anything remotely resembling
> an "environmental" vote.
> 
> The first is the following article, which elaborates in some startling ways
> on some of the "usual" environmental reasons for opposing megadam complexes:
> 
> A “Climate solution”? Big Hydro Is Anything But
> A growing body of peer-reviewed scientific evidence shows that large-scale
> hydropower generation is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions
> By Ana Simeon
> Watershed Sentinel
> October 5, 2021
> https://watershedsentinel.ca/articles/a-climate-solution-big-hydro-is-anything-but/
> 
> The second is a piece I've written summarizing the seldom-if-ever-discussed
> — but very real — consequences of the manipulation of the normal hydrologic
> cycle of rivers in the Northern Hemisphere by megadams in Canada and
> Siberia, in terms of both the death of marine fisheries and the significant
> contribution to global warming feedback loops. I hope those of you who take
> the time to read it will find it interesting and sobering, and perhaps move
> you to go out and vote YES on Question 1:
> 
> ------------------
> Hydroelectric is no protection against global warming
> Dick Atlee, Southwest Harbor, ME
> 
> There is a far larger issue concerning Question 1's NECEC hydropower than
> those being fought about in dueling advertisements.
> 
> There is a serious question about the adjectives "renewable" and
> "sustainable" and "anti-global warming" generally applied to hydroelectric
> generation by large dam/reservoir complexes (megadams). Public discussion
> has focused on the loss of carbon-sink trees, and the methane-generation of
> rotting vegetation. But are these missing an elephant in the room?
> 
> The natural hydrologic cycle of the Northern Hemisphere rivers that flow
> into the Arctic Ocean and — through Hudson Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence
> — the North Atlantic, consists of rivers locked in ice throughout the
> winter, followed by a spring rush of cold freshwater into the ocean from
> mountain snow melt, where it creates complex changes in temperature
> layering and salinity.
> 
> However, for hydroelectric generation to be steadily dependable over time,
> winter's minimal flow and spring's sudden gush has to be evened out —
> reversing the natural cycle — by means of a controlled water release from a
> reservoir, water which is heated during the summer. This has profound
> effects in two vital areas: the marine life on which we depend for food,
> and the land and ocean temperature which affects global warming.
> 
> Northern marine life has adapted its life cycles to this pattern. But the
> megadams that have been constructed in both Siberia and Eastern Canada
> since the 1960s have disrupted this by their evened-out flow of heated
> water. They have produced radical changes in salinity, temperature
> gradients, and the energy necessary for the life and successful transport
> of larvae and young fish. This major disruption of a system that has been
> stable for thousands of years has been extremely stressful or deadly for
> many native marine species in the marine food chain, such as cod.
> 
> This warming has affected not only the ocean, but also the climate of the
> area through which those rivers flow. It has occurred with the northern
> Siberian megadams, which have (deliberately) warmed the Arctic Ocean and
> the Siberian land mass. The melting of the tundra there is well known, with
> its threat of massive methane release, as is solar-energy feedback loop
> caused by loss of reflectivity of reduced Arctic Sea ice — a one-two punch
> of global warming.
> 
> Here, it has contributed to the startlingly rapid warming of the Gulf of
> Maine and connected water masses, which is now understood as a threat to
> the Atlantic circulation that has kept our climate relatively stable for
> centuries.
> 
> Ground-breaking renowned Canadian marine scientist Dr. Hans Neu took
> careful measurements of these crucial marine parameters for two decades
> starting in the early 1960s. His was the seminal work revealing these
> effects and how far they extended into the ocean. His research led him to
> predict both the warming of the Gulf of Maine and other coastal waters, and
> the destruction of the cod fishery.
> 
> Valuable parts of Dr. Neu's work can be found at
> https://friendsofsebago.org and in Stephen Kasprzak's book "Arctic Blue
> Deserts" (https://www.arcticbluedeserts.com/). Take a look, and then
> consider the following question in this seldom-considered frame of reference.
> 
> Is hydroelectric power — "green" or not — a sustainable protection against
> global warming?
> 
> 
> 
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