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What everyone thought was an eco-friendly source of energy has turned out to be one of the primary sources of carbon give-off. Artificial dams, used for electricity and agriculture, emit nearly one gigaton of greenhouse gases annually. This shocking news may seem sudden, but carbon studies have quite the history.

The science of greenhouse gas emissions gained popularity at the beginning of the 21st century. However, that research focused mainly on dams that supply electricity and only two different types of greenhouse emissions. Today’s researchers have expanded their horizons, collecting data on various gases and reservoir constructions. Findings conclude that 1.3% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions stem from all types of reservoirs, primarily methane at a whopping 80% contribution to the global warming effect.

Methane, as it turns out, is worse for the planet than carbon is. The particular construction of dams is what allows them to emit such a large amount of these harmful gases. Soil with high carbon content sucks up too much oxygen too fast, creating a plethora of methane-producing microorganisms. For comparison, marshlands run by the same principle and give off an unpleasant odour as a result.

Fortunately, a treaty that could greatly reduce the global warming effect is in the beginning stages of development. By taking into account this newly found information, strategies can be tailored to the state of the planet. Reservoirs will certainly not be eliminated, but they will be updated to release far less greenhouse gases.

The next big steps to decreasing our effect on the environment won’t be easy, but when completed, they’ll bring nothing but a positive outcome.