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Grand Coulee Dam, which stopped the Columbia River in 1942, supplied vast quantities of electrical power that turned aluminum into airplanes and uranium into plutonium. They restrained rivers to control floods and facilitate shipping.President Harry Truman said that power from Grand Coulee turned the tide of World War II. They stored enormous volumes of water for irrigating the desert and in doing so reshaped the landscape of half the country.Dams may get the recreational label, Doyle says, “when we have no idea what they are for now, and we can’t stitch together what they were for when they were built.” But while many of the original uses have disappeared, the dams have not.In the very center of conservationist hell, mused John Mc Phee, surrounded by chainsaws and bulldozers and stinking pools of DDT, stands a dam. “They take away the essence of what a river is,” Stanley says. A flowing river carries sediment and nutrients downstream and allows flora and fauna to move freely along its length.For two days after the breach, the river moved enough gravel and sand to fill up a dump truck every ten seconds. “I got to watch what happens when a river gets its teeth into a dam, and in the course of about an hour, I saw what would otherwise be about 10,000 years of river evolution.” Over 3 million miles of rivers and streams have been etched into the geology of the United States, and many of those rivers flow into and over somewhere between 80,000 and two million dams.
He notes that the charismatic salmon are a more popular example than the “really butt-ugly fish we’ve got on the East Coast.” Dams not only upend ecosystems, they also erase portions of our culture and history.
As the ecological and cultural toll dams take became clearer, our relationship with them started to show its cracks. At the turn of the century, John Muir and a small band of hirsute outdoorsmen opposed construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley of Yosemite. By the 1960s, pricy full-page ads in the New York Times opposed the Echo Park Dam on a tributary of the Colorado. Echo Park Dam was never built—but downstream, Glen Canyon Dam went up instead, inspiring new levels of resentment and vitriol among dam opponents.
In a 1975 novel by cantankerous conservationist Edward Abbey, environmental activists blow up Glen Canyon Dam.
Americans agree that certain behaviors – like direct personal threats – constitute online harassment.
But they are more divided on others, such as sending unkind messages or publicly sharing a private conversation.