Big Dams

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Big Dams

In their decisions about using resources from rivers, governments are facing issues of land use, energy production and extraction of natural resources. Dams reveal the dilemmas that are faced while trying to meet numerous conflicting needs of humanity, and planning strategies such important projects must strive for ecologically sustianable systems that can support the earth's growing population.


Recent years have seen the removal of a number of dams across the United States, while at the same time plans are being made for large hydro-electric dams in the developing world. These current construction projects have enormous environmental and humanitarian implications far beyond the scale of the dams that are being demolished in the United States. In making decisions about using resources from rivers, governments are facing issues of land use, energy production, and extraction of natural resources. The decisions about dams are a good example of dilemmas that are faced while trying to meet the conflicting needs of humanity. Strategies must incorporate ecologically sustainable systems that are vital to the earth's growing population. This is an issue of enormous magnitude and complexity, and it is important to begin describing these challenges.

Current Activities in the United States

In the United States, the dam building era drew to a close in 1980. Estimates of the number of dams built range from seventy-five thousand to a hundred thousand, and most of the potential for hydro-electric power has already been harnessed. Twenty years later, the costs and benefits of dams are finally becoming obvious. A few of the dams have been dismantled as a result of this, and it is likely that more will follow. ...

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