Water makes life on Earth possible, and rivers connect the webs of life, drawing together freshwater, marine and terrestrial environments.
Rivers, as a dynamic arc in the planetary water cycle, drive critical natural processes that have shaped the evolution of life on Earth, as well as human cultures. Rivers that become disconnected lose their function of maintaining and generating life. Dams impact both water quality and the very functionality of rivers, of planetary life cycle processes harming people, culture and nature, collectively.
Roughly two-thirds of the world’s rivers have suffered harm from the ten thousands of dams that have been built over the past century. Many of the world’s great rivers such as the Indus, the Colorado, and the Yellow Rivers, no longer reach the ocean, turning once-productive deltas into biological deserts. More than tropical rainforests, marine environments, or coastal wetlands, freshwater ecosystems are experiencing the greatest loss of biodiversity, in large measure due to dams. Over the past 40 years, freshwater ecosystems have lost 50% of their populations and over a third of remaining freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction.
Presently, the great river basins of the world are experiencing a new wave of damming: The Amazon, the Mesopotamia, the Congo, the Mekong are each superlative in their contributions to planetary cycles, biodiversity and cultural evolution of human civilization. Each of these basins is threatened with audacious and narrow-sighted schemes that will irreversibly disconnect rivers and cost the planet billions in lost ecosystem services.
The main reason underpinning this new wave is that dams are misinterpreted as “renewable energy” and promoted as solution to climate change. Yet, as proven different parts of the world, such as Amazonia and Mesopotamia, dams do not generate renewable energy, but irreversible natural and cultural destruction. Also scientific studies indicate that dams and reservoirs are globally significant sources of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and, in particular, methane.
Damocracy movement on destructive dams, prioritizes healthy rivers as the most critical natural component for sustaining life on earth. As part of a global network of dam-affected and dam-threatened communities, we are guided by the interests of the more than half-billion people impacted by the damming of rivers, and work to stop destructive dams that worsen our planetary crises.
For more information www.internationalrivers.org