July 07, 2009
Chad Love: Saving Salmon vs. Climate Change
By Chad Love
Here's one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't environmental conundrums that seem to face us with ever-increasing frequency. What's more important: stopping man-made climate change or protecting the last of our wild salmon?
According to at least one energy analyst, we might have to make a choice between the two
Is our love of salmon hindering the fight against global warming? Such is the question obliquely raised by energy analyst Geoffrey Styles in a post published today on hydropower, "The Forgotten Renewable." Styles takes as his jumping-off point a recent New York Times article supporting the demolition of four salmon-run inhibiting dams on the Snake River in Washington state.
...Styles is upset that the Waxman-Markey energy bill effectively discriminates against hydropower in favor of solar and wind, by not including it under the category of "qualified renewables." He sees an implicit contradiction between simultaneously attempting to revive fish runs by getting rid of dams and lowering greenhouse gas emissions by promoting renewable energy.
I have to admit I'm a hypocrite when it comes to dams. On one hand I realize the importance of hydroelectric generation, and I also love fishing tailraces. On the other hand I'm acutely aware of the environmental issues they create in river and riparian ecosystems. It's an issue Kirk Deeter touched on in his cutthroat post a few days ago
It's just one more example of the global environmental Gordian knot we've tied ourselves into. Anyone have any suggestions on how we can untangle ourselves from it?