When someone is asked to describe the types of pollution they know about, heat will rarely be one of their responses. In reality, heat induced by human beings to be accurate; is one of the more common and lethal types of pollution that threaten our rivers.
Many of us never take the time to look at how our power reaches our homes and businesses. The very computer on which you read this article is driven by an invisible and undisputed source of energy that you simply suppose will be there when you plug your machine into the wall.
That energy is driven directly at many places by neighboring rivers that donate their water to our devices such as dams and biomass structures to power turbines and produce electricity.
However, the trade-off is not the same. A drastically lower percentage of the water removed for purposes of cooling or powering is replaced, and the water returned may be lethal to the inhabitants of the river.
When the water is removed and used to cool industrial machinery, as in the situation of the suggested Russell Biomass plant, its temperature rises dramatically and this heat is then brought back to the river. This is referred to as thermal pollution.
In addition, removing the natural trees and other vegetation in the watershed region of the river to create space for a power plant or dam, or removing equipment needed for its perpetuation, also adds to thermal pollution.
As the shade and river cover reduces the direct quantity of sunlight a river will capture, turning pools into ideal solar heat receptors in the now much shallower river, increasing the water temperature dramatically.
Unfortunately, because of worldwide warming and reduced flows caused by enhanced human use, our rivers are already getting hotter. It is merely irresponsible to add deliberate and readily avoidable thermal pollution to this already tenuous condition.
Fish and other aquatic organisms are extremely susceptible to water temperature modifications; their bodies have developed to require some of the surrounding environment’s features to stay comparatively stable.
Not only are they accustomed to a particular habitat heat, they can also compromise their source of oxygen. There will be higher levels of oxygen in cooler water temperatures and the oxygen available for the dependent animals will drop considerably as it warms.
Fish, having recognized that their species can no longer be supported by the surrounding setting, will migrate elsewhere if this can be done or they will simply die off. A sudden decline in biodiversity can shock an area’s food web and drastically reduce its health.
The impacts of this pollution have been felt by rivers such as the huge Colorado River. Other rivers that are less recognized, such as the West-field River in western Massachusetts, may experience these problems in the near future.
Specifically on the Whitfield River, consideration is being given to a prospective biomass project. While the Russell Biomass Plant is designed to supply greener energy to the region, it has not fully studied all the implications of its building.
As described above, the biomass factory will use the river to cool its facilities while only replenishing about 15% of the water taken. This is unfortunate and unnecessary as there are currently other technologies available that use air instead of water in industrial cooling procedures that could readily stop the river water from being removed and subsequently heated.
In addition, Russell Biomass suggested the use of wood chips as a primary source of energy, leading to further issues about Massachusetts ‘ capacity to provide the resources needed to power the plant sustainably without endangering other non-water resources.
The biomass plant is a noble undertaking ; its beneficial suggestions can be seen by any proponent of nature. The devil is in the information, as they say. In order to smooth over some of its rougher edges, further inquiry should be carried out to make this proposition one that we can all back up.
In the case of the West-field River biomass, its advocates silenced opposing points of perspective in the form of refusal to hear lawful, expert testimony from researchers in associated areas. Collectively, we need to agree to hear all appropriate facts and information to make an informed decision in the very close future that will affect our life.
Yes, we support the development of cleaner and more efficient energy technologies as environmentalists, but we can not sacrifice some of our resources to spare others. Simply causing a distinct kind of pollution while decreasing another is not a sustainable solution. Green energy production needs to be created holistically to deliver the lowest possible environmental impact, or it won’t be green at all.
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