What’s commonly thought of as a green solution to energy need is in fact destroying the planet’s last remaining pockets of untouched wilderness and intact ecosystems.
Hydropower may seem like a green solution to meeting the world’s growing electricity demand. But it’s actually a dirty one. Dams emit greenhouse gases, endanger fish species and can uproot communities. In Canada, affected areas are typically unceded Indigenous territories.
Proponents of megaprojects routinely underestimate financial costs. After extensive study, top experts concluded this is caused by “strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying.”
In addition, proponents invariably ignore environmental and social costs of megaprojects.
Bent Flyvbjerg of Oxford University is the most cited scholar in the world in megaproject management, and among the most cited in social science methodology. He is the author or editor of 10 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. Flyvbjerg was lead author of a paper always read by ex post facto commissions of inquiry
Based on a sample of 258 transportation infrastructure projects worth US$90 billion and representing different project types, geographical regions, and historical periods, it is found with overwhelming statistical significance that the cost estimates used to decide whether such projects should be built are highly and systematically misleading.
Underestimation cannot be explained by error and is best explained by strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying. The policy implications are clear: legislators, administrators, investors, media representatives, and members of the public who value honest numbers should not trust cost estimates and cost-benefit analyses produced by project promoters and their analysts.
BC Hydro’s Site C is worse than nearly all megaprojects examined by Flyvbjerg et al. The academics found that for a randomly selected group of projects, the likelihood of actual costs being larger than estimated costs was 86%.
However, they found actual costs were on average 28% higher than estimated. BC Hydro’s continuously rising Site C budget is now an astounding 92% higher than its $8.335 billion estimate when construction began.