Energy is one of the basic units of our physical world, and its availability strongly defines a populace’s standard of living. Debates over the risks related to fracking, mining, nuclear power, hydroelectric dams, wind farms, solar farms, burning fossil fuels and implications for climate change will be weighed against the need to deliver power to an increasing human population. In this course we will investigate how energy is derived from the all the available technologies, from coal to tidal. This will include the full aspect of energy consumption including: infrastructure, mining, energy storage, energy delivery, and waste disposal. As we visit various countries during the semester, we will see that the proportion and the total amount of energy generated by the various technologies differ dramatically. We will discuss opportunities made and those available in the various countries. Lastly we will discuss the inherent conflict generally between energy producers (generating self-wealth) and those downstream of the energy production (enduring poor environmental conditions), and how this conflict is becoming intergenerational.
Field WorkCountry: Ghana
Day: 3 - Thursday, 31 March
We are planning a site visit to the Akosombo dam in Ghana. This dam created the largest man made lake in the world, Lake Volta. The associate hydroelectric project generates approximately 1 gigawatt of electrical power. The construction of the lake displaced approximately 80,000 people and greatly influenced the environment. Obviously dams have both positive and negative outcomes. During our investigation of the dam, we will discuss them both.
Each student will complete an extended journal entry that describes their assessment of the value (positive and/or negative) of the Akosombo dam. If you had it to do again, would you rebuild the dam? If yes, justify. If no, predict the consequences of having no dam. In either case discuss both the pros and cons with suitable defenses.
1. Discover the profound hydrologic effects on the environment that a large dam creates
2. Investigate the engineering design required for the dam and associated electrical infrastructure
3. Investigate the pros and cons of the dam on the peoples of Ghana