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Lori Pottinger
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Entries by Lori Pottinger

Ethiopia Pushes River Basin Toward Hydrological Disaster

(1) Comments | Posted February 20, 2014 | 4:12 PM

In a remote part of East Africa, the Ethiopian government is furtively transforming a pastoral landscape populated by indigenous agro-pastoralists into an industrial powerhouse of dams and plantations. While the government says these developments are intended to reduce poverty, those on the ground see their land and water being taken...

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Can Lake Turkana Be Saved?

(0) Comments | Posted December 13, 2013 | 4:17 PM

Sean Avery is a man on a mission. The Kenya-based hydrologist and civil engineer is the leading authority on the hydrological workings of Lake Turkana, the world's largest desert lake, and he's extremely worried about its future.

The cause for his concern is a boom in river-crippling projects being...

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Ethiopia Water Grabs: Creating 'East Africa's Aral Sea'?

(32) Comments | Posted January 17, 2013 | 1:21 PM

The destruction of the Aral Sea in Central Asia has been called the world's worst environmental disaster. It's not something we should be repeating, especially in a time of growing uncertainty about water resources on our warming planet.

So will the world stand by (and even underwrite...

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A Risky Climate for Big Dams in Africa

(5) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 1:24 PM

Climate change is bringing many uncertainties, especially to the world of water. No continent will be harder hit by climate change than Africa. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that African river basins will be especially affected by climate change, and are expected to face worse droughts and...

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Healthy Rivers, Not Dammed Ones, Needed to Combat Climate Change

(10) Comments | Posted November 30, 2011 | 2:31 PM

The ongoing COP17 climate meeting in Durban, South Africa is themed "saving tomorrow today." Yet a global dam boom being promoted by dam proponents -- including dozens of megadams proposed for Africa's major rivers -- could make a mockery of this vision, by endangering rivers and the ecosystems...

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Extreme Weather Makeover: The Dam Effect

(1) Comments | Posted June 8, 2011 | 4:54 PM

It's been an unusually rainy spring here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The damp weather has a few California farm-belt politicians mad as wet hens, as some farmers in their districts will get less water than usual this year despite high rainfall. These politicians -- who call the situation...

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Grand Illusions for African Energy in Davos

(1) Comments | Posted January 31, 2011 | 5:00 PM

The ongoing World Economic Forum -- the annual gathering of global decision-makers and business leaders -- is the place to discuss big ideas for economic development.

Some African participants are using the forum to promote the gigantic Grand Inga hydropower dam, proposed for the Congo River in...

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Become an Aluminum Scrooge for the World's Rivers

(6) Comments | Posted December 21, 2010 | 8:50 PM

Please, ma'am, just put down the aluminum foil and no one gets hurt.

It's a little known fact that this simple kitchen product has a Dickensian dark side. So as you serve your guests canned beverages, "tent" your turkey, cover the yams, or wrap leftovers at the end of the...

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River Defenders Gather in Mexico to Warn of Global Crisis

(1) Comments | Posted September 29, 2010 | 11:50 AM

This week, I join hundreds of activists traveling to rural Mexico to attend Rivers for Life 3, a global gathering of people whose livelihoods and communities have been harmed or are threatened by destructive dams. Hailing from river-based communities from the Amazon to the Zambezi, the participants are...

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Of Oil Spills and Big Dams: What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us

(3) Comments | Posted June 2, 2010 | 3:22 PM

As BP's Gulf oil spill is so tragically demonstrating, once the cows are out of the barn and the oil is out of the well, it's too late to come up with a disaster response plan. We can't afford more BP disasters; it's time to start turning down projects with...

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Celebrate World Environment Day: Adopt a Planet

(0) Comments | Posted May 10, 2010 | 5:57 PM

What will the world be like for your grandchildren - and their grandchildren - if tigers disappear from the planet? Or sharks? What will their planet be like if Nectophrynoides asperginis goes the way of the dodo?

That last was a trick question; N. asperginis - the Kihansi Spray Toad...

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Sold Down the River; Fishers Fight for Healthy Rivers

(4) Comments | Posted April 3, 2010 | 12:51 PM

The fishers of the world are fighting mad. Rivers and the lakes they feed are drying up, partly due to climate change and drought, but also because large dams are holding back their waters.

These formerly self-sufficient people want their rivers back, and they're making noise about it around...

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World Bank Gives South Africa Lumps of Coal

(6) Comments | Posted March 9, 2010 | 12:32 PM

In case you didn't catch it, the World Bank's top official for Africa just thumbed her nose at the dozens of renewable energy companies lining up to build clean energy in Africa's dirtiest economy.

Obiageli Ezekwesili, the Bank's Vice President for Africa, defended a controversial $3.75-billion loan...

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Going, Going, Gone: Endangered Species Being Dammed

(6) Comments | Posted February 8, 2010 | 5:59 PM

In a reversal of the animated movie Madagascar, all of the world's Kihansi spray toads suddenly found themselves living in the Bronx Zoo, far from their home at the base of a waterfall in Tanzania. The tiny toads were no match for a dam that destroyed not only their life...

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Going After Uganda's Big, Bad Dam Investors

(2) Comments | Posted February 2, 2010 | 12:36 PM

A new short documentary by the Dutch group BothEnds offers a clear, concise "you are there" view of problems being caused by the Bujagali Dam, now being built on the Nile River in Uganda. This well-done piece of activist filmmaking shows the viewer firsthand what is...

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Avatar: Should Brazil Ban the Film?

(40) Comments | Posted January 21, 2010 | 2:50 PM

China has pulled the 2D version of the blockbuster hit, Avatar, from the big screen in what is being billed as cinematic protectionism -- reportedly, to keep its theaters focused on showing a new state-sponsored biopic about Confucius. But many believe there is another side to the...

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Climate Change and Water: Will a River Still Run Through It?

(4) Comments | Posted December 14, 2009 | 5:03 PM

Despite climate deniers’ attempts to slow progress with the “Climategate” brouhaha, the rest of us are hoping the negotiators in Copenhagen will come up with some kind of road map that will lead to positive change. But even under the best outcomes, the focus in Copenhagen will be on emissions,...

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A Good Week for Rivers

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2009 | 2:50 PM

It’s been a bad week for dams – and a very good one for the world’s rivers.

In Queensland, Australia, river protectors thrilled to the news today that their long fight to Save the Mary River from the ravages of a large dam is, finally, over. The nation’s...

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The Right Climate for Green Energy in Africa

(4) Comments | Posted October 24, 2009 | 5:02 PM

The world is greening its electricity supply at a fast (if not fast enough) pace. Germany is slapping solar on every building it can, Spain is becoming a world leader in big concentrating solar plants, and the US stimulus package includes a plateload of subsidies for renewables. At the...

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Dammed Crazy: What Do California's Water Woes Teach Us?

(8) Comments | Posted October 2, 2009 | 4:24 PM

California is schizophrenic when it comes to water.

In the past week, we Californians have been bombarded with news about our troubled water system, good and bad.

The most encouraging news comes from the northern part of the state, where a deal has finally been struck to

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