Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, June 18, 2011 7:03 pm

Dammed if you do …

Filed under: Geek-related issues,We're so screwed — Lex @ 7:03 pm

Right now, there is a really bad drought in central China. That’s bad news for a lot of Chinese, for whom food is rapidly growing more expensive. But it might be bad news for all of us: Apparently, according to Scientific American, there’s at least some reason to think that China’s Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project and the reservoir that that dam holds, may indeed be contributing to the drought:

Experts say that the 600-km (350-mile) long reservoir required to serve the 26 700-megawatt turbines at the Three Gorges hydropower plant prevents considerable volumes of water from flowing downstream.

But some environmentalists and climate specialists have also said that the reservoir acts as a giant heat reflector that affects the microclimate of the region, raising temperatures and reducing rainfall.

They also point to longer-term impact, saying that large reservoirs like the Three Gorges are net greenhouse gas producers because they submerged vast tracts of forest and farmland that would otherwise have absorbed climate-altering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It would be ironic if a method of generating electricity that is believed to be a solution to anthropogenic climate change turned out to be part of the problem. But Dave Schuler at Outside the Beltway makes a point worth remembering:

… while we’re worried about greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and vehicles and global climate change, we shouldn’t lose track of localized anthropogenic climate change which can be induced by massive construction projects, bad land management, and air pollution just to name a few possibilities.

Science. It’s complicated.



  1. Alpha et Omega cognominatus, ipse fons et clausula, Omnium quae sunt, fuerunt, quaeque post futura sunt.

    Complicated ? Not so much.

    Matthew 23:4 24:4

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, June 18, 2011 7:34 pm @ 7:34 pm

  2. Matthew 23:4 also applies to the executives of the extractive industries. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, June 18, 2011 8:42 pm @ 8:42 pm

  3. Ah, 24:4. Well, I don’t think the people who have been complaining and warning about anthropogenic global warming have been wrong, let alone deceptive. And the point here isn’t that they are wrong or deceptive. The point is that within certain localities or regions, features particular to that locality or region also can play a significant role in affecting climate.

    Now, the global-warming denialists? They’ve been both wrong and, in many cases, deceptive, often for money.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, June 18, 2011 8:45 pm @ 8:45 pm

  4. I accept this guy’s creds over yours or mine. No offense intended .

    The hijacking of the American Meteorological Society

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, June 21, 2011 12:34 am @ 12:34 am

  5. Well, except for the fact that the AMS doesn’t do climate research, knock yourself out.

    Comment by Lex — Tuesday, June 21, 2011 9:05 am @ 9:05 am

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