Unusual heat wave causes damage to nation
By Yun Suh-young
The continuing heat wave is causing various technical and environmental problems across the nation.
Blackouts occurred in parts of Seoul during the weekend.
Twenty households in Seoul’s Gangseo district suffered from a power outage at around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. The houses were without electricity for three hours. Also motels in Gwanak endured blackouts for about three hours from around midnight Saturday.
The Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) saw the cause as an overload at electricity transformers due to high power usage from the operation of air conditioners.
The heat wave is also creating unusual environmental phenomena such as the widespread appearance of green algae in rivers.
The green algae, first found in large quantities along the northern Han River can now be found in Seoul due to an increase in water temperature and a lack of rain.
According to a Seoul city government official, the level of “geosmin,” an organic compound that creates a smell similar to mold, has risen by over 15 times compared to that of last month. Geosmin is a by-product from the spread of “anabaena,” which creates the green algae. The toxic material from anabaena can attack the liver and the nervous system if ingested by humans.
The green algae currently appearing repeatedly across the upper Han River near Paldang Dam in Gyeonggi Province is a cause of concern. Complaints have been made by 18 residents near the dam who say that the tap water smells unpleasant. Similar complaints are soon expected from Seoul residents.
Environmental activists argue that the problem stems from the reservoirs established as part of the four rivers project which prevents the river from flowing.
Recently, NASA scientist James Hansen blamed the heat wave on global warming with dire circumstances. In an opinion piece he contributed to the Washington Post Saturday he said, “In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.”