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The 1998 Yangtze River Flood
Transcript of The 1998 Yangtze River Flood
China's Woe Summary: * In 1998, the Yangtze River flooded. It was the worst flood China has had since 1954.
*Naturally, it was caused by extremely heavy rain fall that occurred during an El Nino event that characterizes the months of June through September.
*Human interferences created much greater flood effects: deforestation/ logging and reclamation of thousands of lakes.
* The flood lasted 70 days.
* The flood's peak reached fifty-three feet high, submerging an area as big as New Zealand.
* It caused the death of 3, 600 Chinese, “left 14 million people homeless, affected 240 million, destroyed 5 million houses, damaged 12 million houses, flooded 25 million hectares of farmland, and caused over 20 billion dollars (converted to U.S. currency) in estimated damage” (NCDC). Summary Continued... *Total cost in damages was so extreme, that it threatened to destabilize China’s economy.
*Each day that the flood persisted, millions of people were displaced from their homes. Millions of refugees "whose homes and belongings were literally washed away…[were then] camping out in tents, schools, factories or at relatives’ homes..." (Rosethal).
* Fears of contracting diseases, such as cholera, from contaminated river water were beginning to concern government officials.
* Although the Chinese government initiated the building of Three Gorges Dam in order to produce hydro power electricity and water storage, the recurring floods added on another reason to build the dam.
* In order to construct this massive dam, workers had to excavate enough rock that could have built about 100 Empire State Buildings.
*Chinese locals that resided in 4,000 villages, 140 towns, 13 cities, and 100,000 acres of farmland were displaced.
*Inundated monuments and temples that were part of China's 3,000 year history.
* Many professionals are skeptical about the dam, because it is built on a fault line, but the Chinese keep saying they have it all under control. Doubts still exist about the dam working. Key Terms Forced Migration: It is the movement of an
individual against his or her
will (Knox & Marston, 417). * Forced migration occurred because of environmental circumstances.
*Occupants living in flood zones had no other choice to flee their homelands in order to survive.
* If occupants would have stayed, they would
have drowned; there was no reason to stay behind, because their homes and
communities were destroyed.
Key Terms Push Factors: are events or conditions in a current
location that compel one to leave (Lecture,
Week 10). *The flood itself was the event that pushed
inhabitants of flood zones to flee for safety.
*When flooding ceased, famine and disease
(such as cholera), caused the inhabitants
that stayed behind to leave their homes
The Tenets of Geographical Approach: Attention to the Uniqueness of Place The assumption human geographers make is that no two places are alike. They try to achieve a synthetic understanding of multiple attributes in a place in order to: (1) explain why that place is unique, and (2) explain why a phenomenon or attribute happened there and not else where, or why it happened in that place the way it did.
The 1998 Yangtze River flood occurred to the extreme extent it did because the surrounding land is susceptible to flooding due to logging, monsoons, and reclamation of lakes.
State logging companies were short of capital and terribly in debt. State forest bureaus clear-cut up to ridge tops, leaving only a few trees for reseeding. This malpractice led to the degradation of watershed and increased flooding.
Since 1949, one-third of the Yangtze's middle and lower branching lakes have been reclaimed to cropland. In ancient times, the lakes could easily delay the floods. The extensive reclaim of land has reduced the water area, and the massive silt in waters weakened the store capacity and flood regulating ability in the Yangtze basin.