Drowned tropical forests release too much methane
Eric Worrall writes: A new study performed in Laos suggests that building Dams in tropical locations exacerbates climate change.
According to Scientific American;
“In Asia, Africa and South America, … , masses of methane are produced from dams by the drowning of tropical forests in them. As long ago as 2007, researchers at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research calculated that the world’s largest dams emitted 104 million tons of methane annually and were responsible for 4 percent of the human contribution to climate change.”
“Methane is produced by bacteria feeding on the plant material drowned when the dam is filled. This is added to by more organic matter that is washed into it by rivers and rains.”
Since hydro power is the only renewable which is anywhere near reliable and predictable, this shock discovery pretty much eliminates renewables as a low carbon electricity option.
Note from Anthony:
Mostly this study is just pushback for the second dam being built on the Mekong River, there’s a whole green activist hornet’s nest trying to keep it from happening, spurred on by the usual suspects. For example, this from the Yale360 people:
With a massive dam under construction in Laos and other dams on the way, the Mekong River is facing a wave of hydroelectric projects that could profoundly alter the river’s ecology and disrupt the food supplies of millions of people in Southeast Asia.
A Dam Too Far in Laos
By: Melinda Boh Friday, April 12, 2013 This article originally appeared in Asia Times Online.
VIENTIANE – It was once referred to by US magazine Newsweek as a “kinder, gentler” type of dam. Since the Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam commenced commercial operations in 2010, the World Bank and other proponents of the multi-billion dollar power project have trumpeted it as an economic and social development success story for host country Laos.
But with the negative publicity and diplomatic tussles now focused on the proposed US$3.5 billion Xayaboury dam, which if built promises to hurt downstream communities and the environment in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Nam Theun 2’s emerging failures have largely escaped critical scrutiny.
In particular, there are rising indications that Nam Theun 2 and its massive 450 square kilometer reservoir are responsible for massive amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, amounting to as much as one million tons of methane and carbon dioxide per year, according to recent independent academic studies, including a statistical assessment produced by the US’s Duke University.
If accurate, that figure is substantially higher than the level of emissions initially estimated in the project’s environmental impact assessment. Researchers from Toulouse University in France have concluded that Nam Theun 2 produces in excess of 40% of the GHG that would be emitted from a coal fired power plant of equivalent energy output, and far more than a natural gas-fired plant.
Oh Noes! Those people might have electricity for the first time. We can’t have that. What about all the dirty cooking fires, air pollution, and deforestation for firewood that dam will prevent?
Meanwhile, methane continues to be pretty much a non-problem, and reality isn’t meeting the expectations of IPCC models.
Imagine if environmentalism had the reach it has now in 1776, we’d all be living in sustainable tenements in Boston. Even the Boston Tea Party wouldn’t have happened, for fear the the Colonial EPA might fine them for polluting Boston harbor.