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Dams Have the Power to Slow Climate Change

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Dams Have the Power to Slow Climate Change

Mitigate global warming and produce clean, cheap hydropower at the same time, urges Mike Muller.


5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Dams get a bad rap, says hydropower advocate Mike Muller. Let’s consider the benefits as well as the downsides.

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening


Hydropower dams have grown out of favor in recent years as greenhouse gas contributions joined the list of their perceived adverse environmental and social impacts. Hydropower advocate Mike Muller encourages scientists and policy makers to consider the entire system instead of just reservoir impacts and more fairly weigh the pros and cons. This article will benefit anyone involved in decisions related to advancing hydropower as an energy source. It’s also a valuable reminder of the importance of looking at all dimensions of an issue before drawing categorical conclusions about what’s best.


People should look at hydropower dams as whole systems and consider both pros and cons when assessing their impact.

Hydropower dams have been criticized for adverse environmental and social impacts, including greenhouse gas production by impounded water. But that’s not the whole story. Other greenhouse gas impacts occur across the river system, and people don’t know enough to factor them in.

Policies have been so focused on the human sources of greenhouse gases, little research has been done on other sources of emissions, such...

About the Author

Mike Muller is a hydropower and water management expert and visiting adjunct professor at the University of Witwatersrand School of Governance in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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