Campaigns to reverse the damage done by indiscriminate damming of rivers are springing up everywhere, especially in the western USA, where many a project promoted as the wave of the future has led to silting and the ruin of of many a river ecosystem.
But possibly the first such campaign started as long ago as 1973 in Tasmania after an unsuccessful effort to stop the drowning of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes.
Lake Pedder, in the wild and rugged south-west of Tasmania, was dammed as part of an aggressive and misguided government program to attract heavy industry by offering cheap electricity.
The downside was that the cost of industrial electricity was underwritten by overcharging domestic and small business consumers; corporate electricity deals in Tasmania are state secrets.
Since then, inspired by the work of photographer Olegas Truchanas, a refugee from World War II Lithuania whose life was ultimately claimed by the wilderness he sought to protect, Tasmanians have lobbied and protested to get the government to pull the plug on Pedder.
The spectacular white sand beach can still be seen under metres of water and an Australian Federal Government inquiry concluded in 1996 that the recovery of the lake and its ecosystems was feasible.
This led to the foundation of one of the earliest and most robust conservation movements which now has many triumphs to its name, including the preservation of one of Australia’s greatest wild rivers, the Franklin.
It hasn’t succeeded yet, but in a pragmatic and power-hungry world, these things take time. Better get started now in your own back yard.