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That much, huh? That is impressive!

You’re smiling now, but just wait till my lawyers get through with you!

Dr. Farnheid, you may find this information impressive, but I find it alarming! Changes of this sort are often caused by human activities, such as using a river’s water as a coolant in power plants and then returning it to its natural environment at higher temperatures. Cooling water from a large electric power plant would show a similar temperature increase to that which we observed in the Firehole River, but the situation here is even more serious. Power plants use only a small portion of the water in a stream, but in the Firehole River, all the water is heated, meaning there are no cool places in which living creatures can hide!

Research has shown that only small changes in a stream’s temperature—one or two degrees Celsius—may have serious environmental impacts. These include lowered oxygen levels in the water, changes in the stream’s ecosystem, and direct damage to living aquatic creatures. But, surely, I don’t need to lecture you on the consequences of thermal pollution!

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Cast of characters - Maya Crowbes, Dr. A Beadle, Gray Fischer, Viola DeRama
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Q: What are three consequences of thermal pollution in water?

GLOSSARY: coolant—something that reduces a system’s temperature while the system is operating by conducting away the heat produced