Sunday, April 15, 2007

Water Use and the Limits of Dams

Jeffrey St. Clair has written a pertinent book called Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground. Counterpunch presents the forward, in which St. Clair lays out the history behind dysfunctional, truly non-adaptive water policies in the U.S:

"...Worldwide, threatened river systems are crying out for a new generation of whistleblowers, for government biologists, hydrologists, and geologists willing to risk their own careers to save river ecosystems on the brink of collapse. Like Dai Qing in China, they will, almost certainly, be vilified, ridiculed, investigated, and threatened by the international cliques profiteering on the waters' demise. In the U.S., the Bush administration, in collusion with its stacked Supreme Court, is axing the last frail protections federal whistleblowers enjoy. These scientists, should they ever step into the public spotlight, will need cover and protection. Can they look to Gang Green-the big DC enviro groups like the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society-the ones that gave you Glen Canyon Dam (and so many more)? Fat chance.

"But we must leave these brave whistleblowers to their fates for the moment. Their alarms alone will never be enough. We learn from the example of John Wesley Powell that science, vision, and conscience will not suffice against the Leviathan's momentum and might. Nor can any Bureau of Reclamation fish-saving compromise truly threaten the hegemony of the megadammers, wherein any water that makes it to the sea is water wasted, and no trickle goes unlevied. In just the same way, the hero model favored even by many eco-warriors actually perpetuates the mega-dam mindset. Those who would save the rivers must take the rivers for their heroes, and the salmon and chub, and look not to iconized individuals for leadership but to one another and to the earth itself for partnership. The Klamath River tribes, like the Mun River protesters and Cochabamba's "Defenders of Water and Life" win more lasting victories than Gang Green. It will take a network of river consensus and the forging of a new water culture to bust the dams and to scour away their poisoned silts."

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