Hydroelectricity and greenhouse gasses

10/14/2019 09:26 - Posted by Tom van Leeuwen
Hydropower is one of the cleanest energy sources available. The only downsides known so far are the impact on the landscape and the risk of a dam breaking due to earthquakes. Carefully choosing the locations and high construction standards are needed to solve these problems.

Besides electricity generation, dams also help to regulate the water flow in the rivers, making them better navigatable and useful for irrigation.

So, overall it seems to be quite positive, but recent research has "discovered" a new downside to hydroelectricity and it's a usual suspect: Greenhouse gasses.

In this article in The Guardian titled "The hydropower paradox: is this energy as clean as it seems?", Bridget Deemer, a "research ecologist" at the US Geologic Survey, who led the study during her prior position as a research associate at Washington State publishes their conclusions:

"But analysis by Deemer and her colleagues shows that the latitude and depth of water are not leading factors. Instead, 'biological activities' in a reservoir – such as decaying vegetation and nutrient runoff from watersheds upstream – are more important indicators of greenhouse gas emissions. The nutrient runoff can be from natural processes or from farming, logging and land development.

Using data from the 267 reservoirs, the authors estimate total emissions from all reservoirs worldwide and conclude that those water storage facilities account for 1.3% of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions."

Right, I'm not a biologist and I'm not a researcher... but using my common sense, I'm asking myself: "What would have happened to these 'vegetation and nutrients runoff from watersheds upstream' if there were no water reservoir? Would it have conserved itself magically and eternally? Or would it have decayed anyway?"

Of course, it would have decayed anyway! Vegetation is part of the carbon cycle. Vegetation consumes CO2 when it grows and vegetation emits CO2 when it decays and rots after the plant dies. The net effect is zero.

Moreover: They state that the nutrient runoff comes "from natural processes or from farming, logging and land development". So, would those factors magically disappear if there were no dam? The nutrients would have decayed anyway, that does not depend on whether or not there's a dam, a reservoir or whatever. It decays because it is organical material.

There is no hydropower paradox. Water reservoirs do not produce greenhouse gasses, at least not after the construction phase of the project.

Two questions:
  • Do these "researchers" really get paid for writing this kind of this nonsense?
  • How on Earth did this article pass The Guardian's quality control?

Just another example of the incredible amount of propaganda that is thrown upon us by the main-stream media.

Tom van Leeuwen, October 14th, 2019.


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Since the beginning of the industrialized era around 1850, man emits relatively large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere through the use of fossil fuels. The consequence of these emissions is that during that period, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increased sharply from about 300 parts per million to more than 400 ppm, an increase of almost 40%. The average temperature increased in the same period more or less 1.5 °C with a small variation depending on the data source used.

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The political reports of the IPCC are based on the hypothesis that CO2 is the most important control knob of the Earth's temperature. The problem is that this hypothesis does not correspond at all with the empirical data available to science. Forecasts are made using models that are not capable of 'predicting' the past.

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Global temperatures have varied a lot over the last 500 million years. Depending on the timescale used, the current temperature is either cold or hot, so when you want to know the “normal temperature” you’ll have to indicate what timescale you’re using.

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Let's start this upbeat post with a quote from Wikipedia.

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December 2019. End of the year. End of a decade, the second decade of this century, the second decade of the millennium. Maybe the right moment to evaluate how we're doing?

Well, we're doing great! Humanity is doing great! This has been the best decade so far in human history! Read more...

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Yesterday I decided to post my Four Interglacials to a Facebook group called "Global Warming Denialism is a Big Oil agenda".

It was an educational experience.