Near the mountains where I grew up, the Elwha River dam, is being decommissioned (removed) to give wild salmon a chance again. The dam’s removal reflects the kind of proactive policymaking necessary to restore critical habitat for certain fish populations and the ecosystems and people they support. This is a bold move in a part of the world where electricity is primarily generated by hydroelectric dams.
Sustainable C wonders what lessons removal of the Elwha dam will have for other countries, particularly countries (like Sweden) that rely heavily on hydropower (for example, to meet “carbon neutral” goals), despite the awareness that doing so depletes non-renewable natural resources. Certainly nuclear power, which carries clear risks demonstrated by the Fukushima tragedy in Japan, is not the answer.
It would seem that aggressive investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy storage devices are the only answers that can balance the needs and desires of both nature and humankind. Sustainable C will be on the look out for inspirational energy policy alternatives to nuclear and hydro. Stay tuned!
More information on the Elwha River dam’s history and removal is available in a 5-minute video on the Olympic National Park’s website.