It is well known that the Earth has a very large resource of water but it looks like climate change is making it hard for plants to survive due to very harsh droughts. Most of civilization has rested on us using waters in a variety of ways as a source of energy, the latest one being about 150 years ago when we realized how to use water to get electricity.
What makes water different from solar or wind energy? It’s cheap, produces instant energy and it can be found all over the world. However, climate change is making certain countries experience droughts and their water reservoirs are close to being all out of water.
Where is this happening?
Eastern African countries are seriously affected by this. For example, Malawi, whose power is 98% made by hydro energy, has experienced very serious blackouts last year. Hospitals were some of the institutions that were badly hit by this. Zambia is yet another country that is finding it hard to function with very low water levels.
This is not to say that more economically stable countries have not been hit by this. California is a very good example. When faced with a very serious period of drought that lasted for four years, California had to switch to gas power which not only cost way more than hydro energy but it also produced CO2 emissions, which could have potentially damaged the environment even more.
Can new hydro plants save the day?
Brazil is looking to build new dams along the Tapajos River, a move that has been criticized by a long of people because it would greatly damage the local wildlife and it would affect the local indigenous human populations that live in those specific areas.
When Greenpeace analyzed Brazil’s plan they came to the conclusion that this move is not needed at all. A country that is already experiencing issues with trying to rely on hydropower should not worsen this link at the price of endangering wildlife and indigenous populations for it. Who is to say that these new dams will not do even more damage than what these buildings will cost the surrounding areas?
What Greenpeace proposes as a solution to this issue is for countries to start relying more on solar, biomass and wind power, as they are not only cheaper but they are more effective than hydropower.
Moreover, UK researchers state that if all the current plans for new hydropower plants are going to be completed, they all risk even more power shortages as they all rely on the same weather conditions, in this case rainfall.
Can Africa still use hydropower?
Yes, some parts of Africa have a lot of potential for hydropower but this step should be done very carefully so that no more unnecessary harm to nature is caused. For example, Eva Hernandez, head of the water and agriculture program that is with WWF Spain has stated that people should focus more on improving the hydro plants that they already have, not build more.
What will happen in the future?
The general idea that all these situations are demonstrating is that people should focus more on build stable forms of green energy, rather than rely on forms of energy that are depleting the Earth of its natural resources.
For example, it is already known that us running on fossil fuels has damaged the environment and probably made climate change worse than it was. It is time that countries start to look at renewable forms of energy –wind, solar, and biomass energy – as the forms that are a form of the present and, in some aspects, a form of the future as well. Fossil fuels and overreliance on hydro energy should be avoided.
Karen and her husband live on a plot of land in British Columbia. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. They are also currently planning a move to a small cabin they hand built. Karen’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Thus sprung Anna’s interest in backyard gardening, chicken and goat keeping, recycling and self-sufficiency.