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The Cobra Effect : Is clean energy yet another scientific joomla? (Like Genome project?)

Case of Hydroelectric power

Poison in the Arctic and the human cost of clean energy

Poison in Arctic and human cost of ‘clean’ energy
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Sustainable?
Sustainable?
Cobra Effect
Cobra Effect

Colonial New Delhi had a cobra infestation. To get rid of it, the government offered bounties for dead cobras, inadvertently turning cobra breeding into a thriving business. When the government got wise and cancelled the program, thousands of then worthless cobras were released into the city streets.

The cobra effect occurs when an attempted solution to a problem actually makes the problem worse.

Methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin, is especially high in Arctic marine life but until recently, scientists haven’t been able to explain why. Now, research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that high levels of methylmercury in Arctic life are a byproduct of global warming and the melting of sea-ice in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

“We found more methylmercury in the water than our modeling could explain,” said Schartup. “All of the methylmercury from the rivers feeding into Lake Melville and from the sediment at the bottom of the lake couldn’t account for the levels in the water. There was something else going on here.”

When fresh and salt water meet– in estuaries or when sea-ice melts in the ocean– salinity increases as water deepens. This stratification allows fluffy organic matter that typically sinks to the bottom to reach a neutral buoyancy — meaning it can’t float up or down in the water column. This layer, called marine snow, collects other small settling debris and concentrates it into a feeding zone for marine plankton. The bacteria stuck in this zone are performing a complex chemical process that turns naturally occurring mercury into deadly and readily accumulated methylmercury.

“Clean energy benefits the entire world but the costs of hydroelectric power are often assumed entirely by the Aboriginal communities who live next to these developments,” said Sunderland. “Our research highlights some of the costs to the community with the goal of helping them plan and adapt to the changes that are about to occur.”

“Scientists have a responsibility to understand and explain how environmental systems will react before they are modified,” Schartup said. “Because once the damage is done, you can’t take it back.”

India so far has 47 major hydroelectric power stations. Can you imagine the havoc it may have created so far in local communities? Neurotoxic impact correlation? Data?

“Because once the damage is done, you can’t take it back.”

Only clean energy is energy where mother nature can help.

Gobar. Got it? Kamdhenu? Desi cow?

PS: Methylmercury is just a case study. Different region, same universal solution, different issue.

It is not that irrigation ponds using dammed rivers were never built. But designs were highly local. Impact was local. And never for energy!


Research


Poison in Arctic and human cost of ‘clean’ energy

Poison in Arctic and human cost of ‘clean’ energy

The amount of methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin, is especially high in Arctic marine life but until recently, scientists haven’t been able to explain why. Now, research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that high levels of methylmercury in Arctic life are a byproduct of global warming and the melting of sea-ice in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

To mitigate global warming, many governments are turning to hydroelectric power. But, the research also suggests that methylmercury concentrations from flooding for hydroelectric development will be far greater than those expected from climate change.

The research, published in PNAS, began as a review of the environmental impact assessment for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam in Labrador, Canada. In 2017, the dam will flood a large region upstream from an estuarine fjord called Lake Melville.

The communities along the shores of Lake Melville are predominantly Indigenous and rely on the lake as a primary source of food. One of these communities — and two-thirds of Lake Melville — is part of Nunatsiavut, the first autonomous region in Canada governed by Inuit. When the impact report predicted no adverse downstream effects on Lake Melville, the Nunatsiavut Government reached out to Elsie Sunderland, associate professor of environmental engineering and environmental health, for help.

Four years later, that initial review has morphed into a multi-pronged investigation that has led to important scientific discoveries about how methylmercury accumulates in the ecosystem and how it will impact communities who rely on the ecosystem for food and resources.

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