I woke up thinking about water. I was remembering two places in Wyoming we had stopped at to watch water thunder down in its rocky prison and shoot out across a edge, making a waterfall. One was here, this picture above, which is probably a common stop in Yellowstone National Park (the North Rim of the Upper Falls), and the other below was a less common stop, somewhere just outside the Beartooth Mountain range northeast of Yellowstone.
In both places, I was impressed with the amount of force the rivers were generating on their fierce downward path. I had a passing thought of wondering how that power could be harnessed, as a form of natural energy. But I didn’t finish the thought in terms of what would happen to the river then, to these awe-inspiring views.
Lately I have been reading this book, Making a Difference, by Amy Irvine. It is essentially short stories about various environmental projects sponsored by the Outdoor Alliance, and their subsequent outcomes. I think everyone should read this book, because it inspires you to be aware of what is around you, and how one person really can make a difference in this world. It also is a primer on some of the environmental issues of our times.
Some of the stories center on water, on prevention of dams being built that would allow energy providers to harness the water as a source of energy. To harness the river would also prevent it from reaching those it actually does give energy to – the animals and plants that depend on it to fill a niche in their habitat. At the same time, though, we will need to look for cleaner, renewable energy sources. So is there a way to provide power in which both humanity and nature are the winners? Or at least where there are no losers?
Underwater wind turbines may be part of that answer. There are some other new low-impact answers out there as well, such as “power pontoons” and making the turbines in the dam more effective. From what I can tell from googling answers on the internet, it appears that the Department of Energy and the major players and innovators are trying to come up with solutions that keep in mind the environment while maximizing energy.
I’ve been saying for a while that the next major war will be fought not over land, or oil rights, or weapons of mass destruction, but over water rights. Only time will tell if my prediction is correct, or if humanity can find our way to balance the demand to sustain human life against the demand to support others in the ecosystem without fighting each other over it in the meantime.