The quintessential image of a river you might recognise from post cards and paintings – nice and straight with a tidy riverbank – is not actually how it is supposed to look. It’s the result of centuries of industrial and agricultural development. And it’s become a problem, exacerbating the impact of both extreme flooding and extreme drought. Josh Toussaint-Strauss looks into how so many rivers ended up this way, and how river restoration is helping to reestablish biodiversity and combat some of the effects of the climate crisis
By Pamela Constable and Shaiq Hussain January 24, 2023 at 4:39 a.m. EST
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Three weeks ago, Pakistani authorities ordered all markets, restaurants and shopping malls to close early, part of an emergency plan to conserve energy as the country of 220 million struggled to make overdue payments on energy imports and stave off a full-fledged economic collapse.
But the measures were too little, too late. On Monday morning, the country’s overburdened electrical system collapsed in a rolling wave of blackouts that began in the desert provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh but quickly spread to nearly the entire country, including the densely crowded cities of Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi.
What started as a sharp post-pandemic rise in energy prices in mid-2020 has turned into a full-blown global energy crisis. How is this affecting the political stability of countries?
17 January 2023 – by Heba Hashem
Last updated on 24 January 2023
The world is going through a global energy crisis. Fuel costs affect many parts of daily life, including energy for heating and lighting, individual travel and commodities transportation.
Is There a Global Energy Crisis Today in 2023?
Actually, there is a global energy crisis. From Indonesia to the UK and Peru, people across the globe have taken their anger to the streets. As many as 92 countries witnessed protests against high fuel prices between January and September 2022. These include developed European countries like France, Spain and the UK.
Scientists ‘shocked’ by rate of change as rapid sea-ice melt drives absorption of CO2 – with ‘huge implications’ for Arctic sea life
Acidification of the western Arctic Ocean is happening three to four times faster than in other ocean basins, a new study has found.
The ocean, which absorbs a third of all of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, has grown more acidic because of fossil fuel use. Rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic region over the past three decades has accelerated the rate of long-term acidification, according to the study, published in Science on Thursday.
Updated 7:33 AM EST, Thu January 19, 2023
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivers her victory speech after being re-elected in a historic landslide win on October 17, 2020.Lynn Grieveson/Newsroom/Getty ImagesCNN —
Burnout is real – and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s the conclusion trailblazing New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern seems to have reached after almost six brutal years in office.Tiếp tục đọc “Jacinda Ardern’s resignation shows burnout is real – and it’s nothing to be ashamed of”
Farmers harvest rice in Thailand’s northern Nan province. PHOTO: Paritta Wangkiat
26 September 2022 at 8:25
Rising fertilizer costs decimate poor Mekong farmers’ livelihoods despite their vital role in feeding millions.
BANGKOK, THAILAND ― Skyrocketing prices for fertilizers and agricultural production has pushed farmers in the Mekong region into severe debt and poverty.
Many have been forced to abandon their farms or have been unable to pay their debts and have lost their land, despite their roles in ensuring food security for millions of people.
“This is the worst year for farmers. Everything is more expensive, except rice prices, and they keep dropping,” said Prasert Tangthong, 58, a farmer with a small holding in Sing Buri province in central Thailand.
Proponents describe regional power grids as a way to promote economic growth, energy security and renewables in Southeast Asia, but this might come at a heavy cost
the third pole – August 23, 2022
On 23 June 2022, the import of 100 megawatts (MW) of hydropower from Laos to Singapore through Thailand and Malaysia was hailed as a historic milestone. Part of a pilot project known as the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP), this event represented Singapore’s first ever import of renewable energy, and also the first instance of cross-border electricity trade involving four countries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
However, this development takes place amid rising concerns for the ecological future of the transboundary Mekong River and the millions of people who depend on it. A 2018 study by the Mekong River Commission concluded that further hydropower development on the river would negatively affect ecosystems, and would reduce soil fertility, rice production, fish yields and food security, while increasing poverty in the river basin.
- A dam being built in Laos near the border with Cambodia imperils downstream communities and the Mekong ecosystem as a whole, experts and affected community members say.
- The Sekong A dam will close off the Sekong River by the end of this year, restricting its water flow, blocking vital sediment from reaching the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, and cutting off migration routes for a range of fish species.
- Experts say the energy to be generated by the dam — 86 megawatts — doesn’t justify the negative impacts, calling it “an absolutely unnecessary project.”
- This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network where Gerald Flynn is a fellow.
In 2020 and 2022, no sarus cranes were spotted in Cham Trim National Park. PHOTO: Nguyen Van Hung
19 September 2022 at 8:05 (Updated on 22 September 2022 at 17:13)
A vulnerable bird that usually migrated to the wetlands of the Mekong Delta has become a rare visitor to the area
DONG THAP, VIETNAM – Twenty years ago, Nguyen Van Liet took scientists to the wetlands near his hometown of Tram Chim on Vietnam’s Mekong Delta to find sarus cranes, a vulnerable bird species according to the IUCN Red List, native to Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australia.
“We had to go very early so the cranes wouldn’t know it,” Liet said of the expedition, which aimed to study the crane’s movements using a navigation device. “After sedating them, attaching tracking devices to their legs, the crew found shelter to wait for them to wake up and leave safely.”
Memories of those trips will forever be a source of pride for the 58-year-old. His efforts, no matter how humble, have contributed to helping Tram Chim become known worldwide as a place to preserve this rare crane species, which are world’s tallest flying birds.
IUCN – 06 Th12, 2022
Trong lúc việc phát triển và mở rộng năng lượng mặt trời và gió sẽ là yếu tố quan trọng giúp Việt Nam giảm tiêu thụ than và đáp ứng yêu cầu trong lộ trình thực hiện các cam kết tại COP26, thì việc tăng cường nhập khẩu điện từ các nước láng giềng là một giải pháp bổ sung. Trong Kế hoạch Phát triển Điện lực 8 của Việt Nam (PDP 8) ban hành tháng 4 năm 2022 đã đưa ra dự đoán lượng điện nhập khẩu sẽ tăng từ 572 MW vào năm 2020 lên khoảng 4.000 MW vào năm 2025.
Photo: A solar project invested by Trung Nam Group © Trung Nam Group
Tương lai thì nguồn điện nhập khẩu vào Việt Nam phần lớn sẽ đến từ CHDCND Lào và có thể từ Campuchia. Tuy nhiên, cách thức Việt Nam tham gia thương mại điện năng với các nước láng giềng này sẽ có ảnh hưởng trực tiếp đến việc phát triển các dự án phát điện ở các quốc gia này. Phần lớn nguồn điện năng mà Việt Nam nhập khẩu từ CHDCND Lào đến từ các đập thủy điện và các đập này có thể có tác động tiêu cực đáng kể cho Việt Nam.
The planet has already warmed by 1.1 degrees C (2 degrees F) due to human-induced climate change. Millions of people today are facing the real-life consequences of higher temperatures, rising seas, fiercer storms and unpredictable rainfall. Rapidly reducing emissions is essential to limit temperature rise and secure a safer future for us all, as is making major investments to protect communities from severe impacts that will continue to worsen.
Yet collective efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt are currently not enough to tackle the speed and scale of climate impacts, meaning that some losses and damages from climate change are inevitable. How countries handle these losses and damages has been a key issue at UN climate negotiations and beyond.
Here, we provide an explainer on the concept of loss and damage and what’s needed to address it:
1) What Is Loss and Damage?
“Loss and damage” is a general term used in UN climate negotiations to refer to the consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to, or when options exist but a community doesn’t have the resources to access or utilize them. This could include the loss of coastal heritage sites due to rising sea levels, or the loss of homes and lives during extreme floods.
Những biến đổi về môi trường, khí hậu đã đẩy người lớn tuổi ở Đồng bằng Sông Cửu Long (ĐBSCL) phải rời quê tìm đường mưu sinh.
Chuyến rời quê đầu tiên trong đời bà Nguyễn Thị Áp* là khi bà đã bước qua tuổi 63. Sáng sớm một ngày tháng Bảy, người phụ nữ tóc bạc trắng xách giỏ quần áo, một mình ra lộ bắt xe đi khỏi quê nhà Chợ Mới, An Giang, tỉnh thượng nguồn ĐBSCL đến Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh (TP.HCM). Không chỉ mưu sinh, với bà, đó còn là một cuộc chạy trốn.
Khoản nợ hơn 100 triệu đồng tích tụ “từ ngày còn mần lúa”, lãi chồng lãi, cùng bệnh tim của người chồng đã đẩy bà Áp – gần như cả đời chỉ quen ruộng vườn – đến đô thị xa lạ tìm kiếm việc làm. Đích đến ban đầu trong kế hoạch của bà là Bình Dương, khu công nghiệp lớn nhất nước, nhưng những hàng xóm đi trước rỉ tai rằng nơi ấy chỉ có việc cho người trẻ. Cuối cùng, theo lời họ hàng chỉ, bà đặt cược vào TPHCM, nơi sẵn công việc làm thuê qua ngày.
“Ruộng đã bán. Con cái có gia đình riêng, và cũng khổ. Dì ở lại [quê] hết đời cũng không thể trả hết nợ”, bà Áp nói, không quên dặn người phỏng vấn giấu danh tính vì sợ chủ nợ nhận ra.
UNDP presentation at Viet Nam Economic Forum
Earthquakes can be induced by dams. Globally, there are over 100 identified cases of earthquakes that scientists believe were triggered by reservoirs (see Gupta 2002). The most serious case may be the 7.9-magnitude Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, which killed an estimated 80,000 people and has been linked to the construction of the Zipingpu Dam.
How Do Dams Trigger Earthquakes?
In a paper prepared for the World Commission on Dams, Dr. V. P Jauhari wrote the following about this phenomenon, known as Reservoir-Induced Seismicity (RIS): “The most widely accepted explanation of how dams cause earthquakes is related to the extra water pressure created in the micro-cracks and fissures in the ground under and near a reservoir. When the pressure of the water in the rocks increases, it acts to lubricate faults which are already under tectonic strain, but are prevented from slipping by the friction of the rock surfaces.”
Given that every dam site has unique geological characteristics, it is not possible to accurately predict when and where earthquakes will occur. However, the International Commission on Large Dams recommends that RIS should be considered for reservoirs deeper than 100 meters.
What Are Some Characteristics of RIS?
A leading scholar on this topic, Harsh K. Gupta, summarized his findings on RIS worldwide in 2002:
- Depth of the reservoir is the most important factor, but the volume of water also plays a significant role in triggering earthquakes.
- RIS can be immediately noticed during filling periods of reservoirs.
- RIS can happen immediately after the filling of a reservoir or after a certain time lag.
Many dams are being built in seismically active regions, including the Himalayas, Southwest China, Iran, Turkey, and Chile (see map). International Rivers calls for a moratorium on the construction of high dams in earthquake-prone areas.
Click here for the factsheet on RIS worldwide.
Problems With Big Dams
By 2015, the dam industry had choked more than half of the Earth’s major rivers with some 57,000 large dams. The consequences of this massive engineering program have been devastating. The world’s large dams have wiped out species; flooded huge areas of wetlands, forests and farmlands; and displaced tens of millions of people.
Courtesy of James Syvitski at Colorado University, who produced the video with Bob Stallard of the USGS and Albert Kettner at CSDMS. Data from Alex de Sherbinin (CIESIN, University of Colorado), and Bernhard Lehner (Department of Geography, McGill University).
The “one-size-fits-all” approach to meeting the world’s water and energy needs is also outdated: better solutions exist. While not every dam causes huge problems, cumulatively the world’s large dams have replumbed rivers in a massive experiment that has left the planet’s freshwaters in far worse shape than any other major ecosystem type, including tropical rainforests. In response, dam-affected communities in many parts of the world are working to resolve the legacies of poorly planned dams. Elsewhere (and especially in North America), communities are starting to take down dams that have outlived their usefulness, as part of a broader river restoration movement.
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Watch We All Live Downstream for a visual introduction to dams, rivers and people.
- Read 10 Things You Should Know About Dams
- Read “Greenwashing Hydropower“: The Problems with Big Dams.
- Watch Hydropower: Not As Clean As You Think for an introduction to why big dams are not the answer to our changing climate.
- Damned Rivers, Damned Lives: The case against large dams
- A Crisis of Mismanagement: Real solutions to the world’s water problems
- Beyond Hydropower: Energy options for the 21st century
- Warming the Earth: Hydropower threatens efforts to curb climate change
- The Coming Storm: Preparing for a warming water world