29 Aug 2014:
New Database Tracks Ecological
Health Impacts of Dams on World's Rivers
A newly launched online database
illustrates the impacts of nearly 6,000 dams on the world's 50 major river basins, ranking their ecological health according to indicators of river fragmentation, water quality, and biodiversity. The "State of the World's Rivers" project was developed by the advocacy organization International Rivers
and created using Google Earth. Users can compare the health of individual river basins, see the locations of existing and planned dams, and explore 10 of the most significant river basins in more depth. For example, as this map of China's Yangtze basin shows, at least 374 dams already exist in the basin, and at least another 167 are under construction or planned to be built. The ecological health of the region
is showing signs of collapse, the database entry says: A 2014 study
found that fish species in the Yangtze drastically decreased from 143 to 17 over the course of one year, due to overfishing and dam construction. The 6,000 dams represented in the database are a small percentage of the more than 50,000 large dams that impact the world's rivers, the organization notes.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.