In search of cleaner alternatives to burning fossil fuels, many countries have turned to dams. By damming up a powerful stream or river, a population can generate consistent amounts of hydroelectric power that, on the surface, appears to be clean, emission-free energy. Controlling the water flow of the stream allows for a dependable source of drinking water, irrigation for crops, and flood-prevention farther downstream.
However, dams do have a profound environmental impact that is not always positive. Larger dams usually require substantial reservoirs, drowning a large area that can displace homes, increase erosion and release greenhouse gases from the flooded sediment. Additionally, people who are dependent on the natural flow of the river have to adjust to potentially losing their livelihoods and source of food or clean water. Lastly, dams that are hundreds of feet tall and have many turbines are not cheap to build, and their continued maintenance can be incredibly expensive.
Is this form of so-called energy really worth the environmental impact?
Click through this gallery of current and proposed dams and decide for yourself.