Environmental and social impacts of large scale hydroelectric development: who is listening?
The most often heard claims in support of large scale hydroelectric development are: (1) hydropower generation is 'clean', (2) water flowing freely to the ocean is 'wasted', and (3) local residents (usually aboriginals) will benefit from the development. These three claims are critically examined using case histories from Canada and elsewhere in the world. The critique is based mainly on journal articles and books, material that is readily available to the public, and reveals that the three claims cannot be supported by fact. Nevertheless, large scale hydroelectric development continues on a worldwide basis. The public needs to be well informed about the environmental and social consequences of large scale hydroelectic development in order to narrow the gap between its wishes for environmental protection and what is really occurring.