It all began with dams. Ardent opposition to the building of dams along the Colorado River in the 1950s was how the modern environmental movement got started in the U.S. Today there are over 50,000 major dams around the world and countless smaller projects. And they're still upsetting wildlife and environmental activists. As hydropower becomes an increasingly important energy source, fights over the where, how, and when of dam building are only going to intensify.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently released a report, 'The Seven Sins of Dam Building,' which outlines the ways in which proposed dam projects around the world are failing the local communities, endangering ecosystems, and putting profit ahead of sustainability.
Jian-hua Meng one of the report's authors with WWF Global Water Security Initiative sees the effects of dams on wildlife as one of the most pressing concerns. "The first and immediate impact of a dam is, of course, the area that becomes inundated behind the reservoir, which is always a habitat for someone or something," explains Meng. "But dams also mess up the connectivity of rivers, so that migrating aquatic species can't move freely up and down and the inevitable changes in the flow of the river after damming can have consequences hundreds of miles downstream, changing salinity and making home uninhabitable."
So let's take a look at some of the worst up-and-coming offenders when it comes to wildlife. Some of these names are notorious, while others are slipping under the radar—until now.
Photo: Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Getty Images