16 August 2007

Deep Water

I hate greenie books so I read this one only because I had nothing else with which to keep myself amused. It turned out to be awesome.

I wouldn't have described myself as pro-dam because it never occurred to me that anyone could be anti-dam, so deep are our assumptions about the benefits of dams. Of course this one or that one may be poorly sited and flood priceless forest or relics, but apart from those obvious cases, who can be against progress?

Well we know about the parasitic snails of the Aswan Dam, and we've heard rumblings about the accumulation of rotting organic matter in dams negating the greenhouse benefits of hydroelectric power, but...

This excellent book looks at 3 dam-related figures: a prominent Indian anti-dam activist intent on drowing to prevent a certain dam being built; an American pro-dam anthropologist with most of his experience in Africa who is eternally searching for "one good dam"; and a leading Australian scientist/administrator with responsibilities relating to the management of the Murray River system.

The book is well-written and highly readable. One would surmise that the author's has a reasonable, centrist, balanced view of dams; at least this is the conclusion one reader came to after reading the book.

Most importantly, this book will shake you out of your unquestioning pro-dam beliefs, even if only to demand that dams and dam-building projects are better designed and managed.


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