New Horizons in Science

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Dams in Amazonia: A developing climate threat

Topic: Environment
Monday, October 15, 2018 -
9:35am to 10:35am
Jack Morton Auditorium

Hydroelectric power is widely accepted as a climate-sparing solution to burning fossil fuels. And under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries can get "carbon credits" for building dams as a supposed path to clean energy development. But the construction of massive dams now under way in the vast Amazon region of Brazil, Philip Fearnside has shown, is likely to worsen rather than relieve climate change.

Drawing on decades of research on deforestation and climate issues in Amazonia, Fearnside has shown that many existing and under-construction tropical dams emit more carbon than fossil fuel power generating plants, as flooded forests and decaying aquatic plants and weeds release large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane. Fearnside says the Amazon dam-building program for which Brazil is claiming carbon credits will result in major methane emissions that may stymie progress toward the Paris agreement's global temperature goals. The dams are also displacing indigenous people, destroying the livelihoods of local populations, blocking fish migrations, reducing biodiversity and threatening human health through mercury methylation.

_Social media hashtag:_ #AmazonDams


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