There is no really concrete answer to this question, as it depends on how you weigh the environmental positives and negatives of hydropower. On the plus side, hydroelectric projects generally do not make a large contribution to global warming – though flooding large areas of vegetation to create reservoirs may eliminate carbon sinks that would otherwise have been able to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Little or no airborne pollutants come from hydroelectric projects. Yet hydroelectric dams often disturb natural ecosystems and put whole species at risk. By creating an artificial reservoir, dams flood land-based ecosystems, and change aquatic habitats so they may no longer be suitable for the species that live there. In areas like the western United States, dams are also a problem because they make it difficult or impossible for migratory fish, like salmon, to pursue their normal migratory life cycles. In the end, whether hydroelectricity counts as “green” or not probably depends on the specific project in question, how severe its impacts are on the local environment, and what kind of electricity generation facility would replace it if the dam didn’t exist.
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