This Week in Water™ airs on community and public radio stations nationwide and is available on podcast networks. Want environmental news delivered to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter.
The largest dam removal project in U.S. history is under way on the Klamath River, which runs along the California-Oregon border. Last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the demolition of four dams to open up the river for salmon habitat, after Native American tribes had fought for decades to restore the heart of their cultural heritage. The Klamath had been the third-largest river in terms of salmon on the West Coast, but the dams, which were constructed from 1918 to 1962, prevented the fish from reaching spawning grounds upstream.
Klamath River | Credit: Anna Murveit/Klamath River Renewal Corporation
Global warming is causing permafrost to melt, which could release pathogens—bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms—that have been in suspended animation for thousands of years. While previous research has shown that pathogens can emerge from melting ice and permafrost, a new study from Flinders University in Australia shows that about one percent of them could pose a significant risk to ecosystems. And while that may seem small, the researchers say that there is substantial danger because ecosystems and humans have not been exposed to the ancient pathogens and may not have developed defenses.
Thawing permafrost in Herschel Island, Canada | Credit: Boris Radosavljevic/Creative Commons
As more and more renewable energy comes online, the need to store the power generated from solar and wind is growing too. Existing battery technology is expensive and relies on materials like cobalt or lithium, which have environmental impacts, so low-cost, sustainable alternatives are urgently needed.
Electrified cement (artist’s conception) could store enough energy in a home’s foundation to power household appliances for a full day. | Credit: N. Chanut et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sure, it’s still summer, but before long we’ll be reaching for our puffy coats. While the quilted jackets are great for keeping us warm, they’re not so hot for the environment. The fluffy filling is made either from polyester derived from fossil fuels or from down feathers plucked from geese or ducks, often not in an ethical manner.
Bulrush (Typha latifolia) | Credit: Peter van der Sluijs/Creative Commons