Dam the River - Damn the Planet?

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Dam the River - Damn the Planet?

<p>Why has the building of dams provoked so much protest, not only in Australia, but around the world? Examine some controversial dams that some believe have solved problems; but others say have left

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Why has the building of dams provoked so much protest, not only in Australia, but around the world? Examine some controversial dams that some believe have solved problems; but others say have left a trail of environmental destruction. Why does the myth persist that humans can tame wild rivers? Or even that humans have the right to do so? What are the consequences of big dams at a time of climate crisis? The course builds on earlier WEA environmental history courses on Forests (2018: Term 1) and Oceans (2018: Term 2) but is not required to have attended to enrol.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Controversial big dam building for energy needs, flood mitigation, water security and increasing population growth for water, energy and safety eg Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China; Lake Pedder flooding in 1970s and the proposal to dam Franklin River in Tasmania in 1980s.
  • History of major dams around the world starting with the Hetch Hetchy Dam in California that led conservationist John Muir to form the Sierra Club, one of America’s first environmental groups.
  • The intensification of environmental effects from dam building in the twentieth century as a result of population increase, urbanisation, increasing industrial production and increasing demands for water.
  • The understanding of the ecological consequences of dam building at a time of water scarcity, climate change and biodiversity extinction.
  • The developments in ideas about the wild rivers and dams in relation to ideas about ‘Gaia’, ‘limits to growth’, sustainability, and the ‘rights of nature’.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify controversial dams in Australia and around the world.
  2. Describe the origins of environmental awareness and activism that developed as a consequence of these controversial dam projects.