Helping pull back the curtain on the wizard of lies, the leader of ecological and climate disasterpolicy… Canada’s Hydroelectric Industry

Clifford Krolick, research associate  New England, Canada, and Atlantic Provinces Alliance     

Many of us have heard that the Arctic is melting rapidly, actually heating 5x faster than the rest of the planet. Canadian and Russian’s since the 1960’s and 70’s commissioned the construction of 300- 600 foot tall mega reservoir hydroelectric dams within the Arctic region. Replumbing landscapes to create hydropower requires lots of heavy machinery and tons of concrete. The energy Intensity of a medium-sized dam can produce the same
amount of emissions as 46,000 vehicles a year. Cement, the second most
consumed product on Earth, accounts for a whopping five percent of global Co2

Scientists are intrigued and have spent years trying to understand what factors are leading to the Arctics rapid heating.  They seem to all agree that the polar and equatorial regions on our planet not only are the most sensitive to any human impacts but any human manipulation and changes in these zones could have catastrophic ecological, hydrological, and climatological effects that would reverberate throughout our planet.  For decades the major Arctic rivers that supply fresh water to the Arctic Ocean have been under strict flow regulations forced by Canadian and Russian mega reservoir hydroelectric operations.

The construction of these mega dams required containing thousands of Square miles of
water.  This was no small feat and it is no small impact on a region covered by Boreal
Forests, Tundra, and Permafrost ground.  Dam operators have Continued to do this year
after year for 60 years, with cumulative effects that have been catastrophic. . I understand
that there’s the argument of scale, but the Arctic Ocean in Comparison to the Pacific and
Atlantic is much smaller so any human created flow restrictions on the major rivers feeding
this ocean will have a significant effect on the general hydrology affecting the entire Arctic
Archipelago region.  And there are thousands of dams up there in Canada with multiple
dams on numerous rivers feeding into both Hudson and James Bays
 These flow restrictions have waters confined all summer long in sea-size shallow flooded
land reservoirs literally 1000’s of sq miles. For years dam constructors routinely flooded
over forests, tundra and Permafrost grounds. But no time in recent human history have
much of the flow from these rivers been held hostage with waters pushed inlands all
summer.  Waters sit stagnant and as they gain solar radiation begin to warm.  Of course
this warming, over the years leads to decomposition with much methane and Co2
emissions but the permafrost under these heated waters is also melting and releasing more emissions. What was once an arid colder place aka the Arctic is now beginning to transform into a warmer, more humid wetter place. Recent NASA studies point out why:  (Steamy Relationships: How Atmospheric Water Vapor Supercharges Earth’s Greenhouse Effect by Alan Buis, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, February 8,

 Only in winter the flooded miles of reservoirs are drawn back to these dams to create
electricity.   However the discharge flow rates of these waters are often 5-10 x normal river
flow .  If you combine unusually high flow rates with the warmed waters above freezing, and
add the frigid air, of the Arctic, huge amounts of Water Vapor, humidity and heat is released
as these rivers flow much of the way unfrozen toward the Hudson and James bays leading
into the Arctic Ocean.  Again, no time in recent human history have most of the major Arctic
rivers remained flowing and unfrozen in winter .   The oxygen levels in these waters
remain considerably lower because waters sat stagnant all summer. The chemical make up
of waters contain higher levels of methane and co2 are forever chemically altered.  It should
also be noted ,that scientists have determined that much of the heating going on in the
Arctic occurs in winter time. Rivers flowing in winter would certainly amplify Arctic heating.
 Some of our data goes back to temperature and precipitation studies from the 1940’s and
begins to show marked changes beginning to be documented in the 1960’s Recent U.S.
EPA ruling now suggests that dams and their reservoirs should be monitored for GHG
emissions.  They suggest that dams and reservoirs are a significant source of Green House
gas.  Each year that we permit this process in the Arctic to continue is another year to keep
warming the key climate player in North America, the Arctic.
 Hydro Quebec is an outlier and has disregarded many of Canadian regulations which
unfortunately there are few.  They care little to nothing about the fisheries or the ecological
significance of their destructive dam operations or displacing indigenous populations.   They and their Russian counterparts have been significantly heating the Arctic region for the past 60 years.Canadians by far are worst offenders and continue to pedal and greenwash their hydro energy as 100% clean & renewable energy.  We need assistance to help encourage the U.S. to no longer accept Canadian Imported electricity as all of it is hydroelectric originating in the Arctic.  Ultimately, we need organizations like yours to demand Canada to decommission these dams and let these rivers flow again naturally. 
We have an extensive body of research on large hydroelectric operations particularly located in polar and equatorial regions and would be happy to assist.  This is literally the tip of the Iceberg of damages.

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