Mr. Al Gore, we are writing to you to get your feedback about the unsustainable situation in the Baltic Sea, which is a dying sea. We have formed a group on Facebook called Save The Baltic Salmon. We are 3982 members in september 2013.
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We want to consult you and your colleagues about if the extensive regulation of water streams, with dams and power stations, in Sweden and Finland, are affecting negatively on the Baltic Sea.
The reason we are asking you Mr. Al Gore is that there is an ongoing European project where researchers from Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Poland and Sweden are cooperating. The study is part of an EU-funded project, SIBER accounting for Silicate and Baltic Sea Ecosystem
Conducted research shows that silicon concentrations in the Baltic Sea has decreased during the period 1970-2001 by 50%. The SIBER project shows that eutrophication and water power dams are the two main reasons for the declining silicon contents and decreasing oxygen levels.
Silicon content began to decline after development of the large dam construction sites in the 1950s – and ’60s was established. The decrease of silicon continues during the second half of the 20:th century and still continues into 2013 and further on. Silicon input have roughly estimated decreased by 90% in the Baltic Sea since the end of 19th century.
Regulation of Swedish watercourses has been going on for about 100 years. Silicon levels are still high in the northern parts of the Baltic Sea, where we have unregulated rivers. Further south, especially in the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea, the diatoms opportunity to grow, is limited. We understand that water power dams is the major contributing cause to eutrophication in the Baltic Sea and not only because of climate change and emissions, as you describe in your book “An Inconvenient truth”. Your book is an important and popular book among environmentalists and politicians here in Sweden. It is therefore important to us to get your reflections.
Mr. Al Gore you wrote in your book, that eutrophication caused by increased supply of the nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen, and that climate change accelerates eutrophication.
The EU SIBER projects shows that it is the ratio of phosphorus, nitrogen and silicon that determine the extent of eutrophication. water power dams is the main reason for the decrease in silicon concentrations which is the source to the diatoms. Why didn’t your group realize that the silicon shortage was a critical factor?
Diatoms appearance varies and can be divided into more than 200 genera and estimating the number of species to about 100, 000. Most species live out in the open seas and freshwater lakes. Diatoms account for about 45% of photosynthesis in the oceans and are the carrier of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
The silicon shortage leads to diseases
Diatoms stands for the vitamin B1 production in the Baltic Sea. Dissolved silicon is needed to build diatoms, which are eaten by zooplankton.
Zooplankton in turn, are important food for gastropods, crustaceans and mussels,
fish, birds and other animals and we humans are all depended on a high level of silicon and diatoms in the sea.
The silicon shortage has affected marine and terrestrial animal species around the Baltic Sea. Several species have declined in numbers by up to 75% and in some cases up to 90% in the last 10 years. One example is the Ejder, extincted in many parts of the Baltic archipelago. You can see a picture of the bird below. Mr. Al Gore please, listen to the sea sounds from the past. After expiry comes silens……….
Silica deficiency which adversely affect metabolism, which is a generic term for the processes by which nutrients are absorbed, transformed, broken down in the body, transformed into energy or removed from the body. Lack of silica causes greater susceptibility to infections, impaired growth, skeletal abnormalities, and anemia. The blood’s ability to absorb oxygen decreases and causes chronic fatigue.
Why ”blooms” the Baltic Sea? The phenomenon with blooms have the last 30 years increased. A lot of the nitrogen and phosphorus compounds are consumed in the Baltic Sea in the spring when diatoms mass reproduce. It is the balance of these three substances that are crucial in determining the extent of eutrophication. Discharge of nutrients such as phosphorus are limiting in freshwater, while in the sea, it is nitrogen. The lack of silicon then leads to cyanobacteria, free rein. Mass occurrence of cyanobacteria in summer is governed by the availability of nutrients phosphate and nitrogen compounds. The silicon shortage means that other algae, usually green algae and the toxin-producing golden algae reproduce. A lot of diatoms in spring reduces the preconditions of cyanobacteria to flourish. High content of silicon is a necessary condition for a healthy Baltic Sea.
Our ocean and lakes are coated with bathing bans when cyanobacteria are given free rein. When the eutrophication is at its worst, not even dogs can swim in the Baltic Sea for the risk of dying from the venom of the poisonous algae.
Mr. Al Gore, on the pictures below you can see water power plants in our large rivers, marked as red dots. Moreover, there are countless other dams as old left ponds, irrigation ponds, dams from the forest industry and leachate ponds from mining.
Sweden has about 2 500 water power installations where less than 2% have functioning fish migration routes.
Most of fish migration routes are not adapted to all types of spawning wandering fish species but only for salmonids, which affects biodiversity negatively. The reproducing fish species are red-listed or listed as endangered species.
Baltic Sea is a sensitive sea and is one of the world’s largest brackish water. The sea is filled with fresh water from north and salty water from the south, fish fauna is internationally quite poor. The approximately 255 species of fish observed in Swedish waters during the historical period represents less than 1 percent of all fish species in the world. Moreover, only around 140 of them appearing regularly.
Raising and lowering of water in water electric dams and dried out streams has resulted in growth zones of diatoms eroded away and dryed out. This problem has been so extensively that lakes and rivers are depleted of diatoms and many lakes and river beds are completely sterile and nutrient-poor. The water in some lakes is so poor in nutrients and clean, that it can be used as water in lead-accumulators. Raising and lowering of the water also destroys the possibility for biodiversity of insects, plants and fish that rely on stable waters close to shore for reproduction.
The water powers negative impact on the marine environment is not just a problem for the countries around the Baltic Sea. It is a global problem because of lack of silicon. Eutrophication gets worser and emits greenhouse gases and accelerates the greenhouse effect.
Proposals for a healthier ocean.
We believe that the EU, the Government and Parliament immediately reevaluate water power as a sustainable and renewable source of energy. It is an ongoing threat to the a sustainable environment.
We believe that regulated rivers must be restored in Sweden and Finland because of the lack of free-flowing, silicate, diatoms and oxygen-rich waters to the Baltic Sea.
We suggest that it should be a law stipulated for fish migration routes as artificial streams in all the regulated rivers. All spawning species must be given the opportunity to survival.
We believe that the environmental goals as our politicians make shall be legally mandatory. The natural balance is critical to the future generations and the environmental goals must be taken seriously by everyone in society.
A few questions for you Mr. Al Gore and your employees.
Can you Mr. Al Gore and your group, verify that the reduction of dissolved silicon is one of the main reasons for the heavy and poisonous algae blooms in the Baltic Sea?
We also want your opinion why the species in the Baltic Sea area suffer from weakened shellfish, crustaceans and birds death?
Is it reasonable to reevaluate water power from being considered as an sustainable environmentally friendly, renewable and green energy source to a threat to the environment and especially to the Baltic Sea?
President of Save The Baltic Sea
Bror Högbom Sweden
Algimantas Vilkénas Spain Tenerife
Board of Directors of Save The Baltic salmon
Jasper Pääkkönen Finland
Henry Svonni Sápmi
Kenneth Hans Karlsson Sweden
Thomas Strandgren Australia
Bo Thomasson Sweden
Ingela Dahlin Sweden