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Three Gorges Dam

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Katelyn Rothney

on 31 May 2010

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Transcript of Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam Environmental Analysis
Local coastal cities will be submerged in water, as the water level rise. People have had to move to prevent pollution in the reservoir, to protect people against hazards like landslides, and also because their homes have submerged in the water (as well as schools and hospitals). About one million innocent civilians will be displaced to local inland urban cities. The integration of the two populations will cause an over crowding and social disruption to the local existing community. The massive project sets records for number of people displaced. More than 1.3 million have already been displaced with another 300,000 people estimated to be displaced as a result of the construction. It has also set a records for number of cities and towns flooded (13 cities, 140 towns, 1,350 villages). This is also an incredibly large issue as many of the displaced citizens claim that the government has not provided them with the fair compensation, or any compensation that they promised civilians.

However, tourism has also come from the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. This has created job opportunities for Chinese of all classes. As witness in the documentary "Up the Yangtze" sixteen year old "Cindy" Yu Shui, a girl that came from a poor family living in Fengdu- the"Ghost City" was able to earn money on one of the boats that tours along the Yangtze. This enabled her to provide for her family, and also raise a fund that would allow her to attend high school. Social Analysis Political Analysis Economic Analysis
Cultural Analysis
Implementations & Summary Bibliography Background The Three Gorges Dam (the San Xia) is the world’s largest hydropower project and most notorious dam. The project was proposed by the Chinese government in 1919 by Sun Yat-sen. After many distruptances the proposal was finally passed the The National People’s Congress in 1992 .Constructed for the dam began in 1993, though construction was not formally announced until 1994. The dam was completed in Decemeber of 2007. It is expected to produce 100bn kilowatt-hours of electricity a year at full capacity. Although this is a type of renewable energy source (hydro-electric) and less polluting of the air than burning fossil fuel it is negatively affecting the nation in other ways, which include environmental degradation. The three gorges dam is causing extreme controversy as it has destroyed the habitat of several thousands of species, has also forced over a million people to leave their homes as they were in the way of the project, and the dam has also flooded several-thousand- year-old archaeological sites. Not only does dam related relocation affect society, but it also affects the cultural aspects of China. Several historical sites (That date back to 10,000 B.C.) will (and have) be submerged and lost. Over 100 historical sites as well as cultural heritages of China have been lost due to the flooding. Additionally, the internationally renowned Three Gorges is being destroyed. The canyons of the Three Gorges have inspired poets and painters for centuries, and are being destroyed with the increase of the water level.

Here is the link of an interesting article ("Three Gorges History Drowning in Rising Reservoir") that discusses cultural repercussions of the dam's construction.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17810431 The main purpose of the construction of the three gorges dam is to generate enough electricity to support a good fraction of the Chinese population. This alternative source of energy would allow China's day to day life, and economy to continue on as usual while not emmitting green house gases. The project has also generated an income by allowing tourists to view the Yangtze river on high end boats as the water level rises.

However, the negative economic effects of the project included disturbance of the productivity of Chinese citizens. Citizens of the rurual coastal villages are losing their sources of income: which mainly are farming. They lose this source of income as the farmlands are flooded as the water level rises, due to the dam. In some areas the water levels will rise as high as 175 m.

Furthermore, the cost of the project is monstrous! It cost around 27 billion American dollars (180 billion yuan) to construct the dam. The Chinese government, as well as other governments, and companies contributed to the funds required to build the dam. From conducting this case study it became evident to me quickly that the construction of the three gorges dam has progressed so much, that solutions which would hinder the construction of the dam are fairly unlikely. Even if the construction had not have progressed to this point advocating for its halt would have been difficult as the majority of the population- that is negatively effected by the dam- lives in rurual areas, and are quite poor. These people do not have a voice in the nation's politics. However, I have concluded through my research that the devastating effects on the population, and loss of cultural history should not be tolerated. All displaced persons should have access to satisfactory homes, and recieve proper compensation. Additionally, the government should find ways to protect the unique sites that reflect the history of the nation, because China's ancient cultures, traditions, and historical sites are some of the most beautiful in the world. The politics surrounding the Three Gorges dam project are quite messy.

For over three decades the Chinese government has denied and dismissed warmings from scientists and environmentalists that the three gorges dam was gaining potential to become an environmental nightmare. However, in 2007 Chinese officials finally recognized that the world largest hydroelectric dam had transformed into what they feared. It was then that they acknowledged the dam may be responsible for landslides, altering entire ecosystems, and endangering millions of people that live within the area.

Throughout the building process there were allegations of corruption against the officials involved in the dam project.

Politicians may have chosen to persue this project because it would establish that China had claim on the largest hydro-electric dam in the world, proving it to be a technologic power, and because the dam will produce energy, improve the standard of living and provide jobs for an estimated 15 million people who live downstream of the dam. The environmental damage caused by the dam is undeniably profound, and expected to worsen with time.

Hundreds of factories, mines, waste dumps, submerged, and industrial centres located upstream on the river have created an effluent bog type environment. This bog is composed of silt, industrial pollutants, as well as other rubbish. This pollution poses a threat to the quality of the water within the river.

Also, erosion of the resevoir, and riverbanks downstream are causing landslides. Th

In areas that are to be flooded, many toxic waste sites exist and little attempt has been made the clear these areas before the water comes rushing through. These toxic chemicals, along with sewage runoff form local villages could lead to a large-scale contamination of the major water source of China.The flooding of the Yangtze river is also flooding farm lands (that nearby citizens use as their both their source of income, and substinence.)

However, the project is environmentally friendly in the sense that hydro-electricity is an alternative source of energy. A young boy whose family is feautured in Up the Yangtze
said that downside to his life, after relocating is that "the house we’re living in is not in very good condition.. but the good side is that we have good food.. I know many of my classmates don’t eat as well as we do…" This quote reflects the politics, and social problems which surround the Three Dams Project.

The father of Yu Shui in the documentary Up the Yangtze says in the middle of the film that “the water will soon rise, when the three gorges dam closes.. im really worried… but even if my heart worries, there is nothing I can do.. the three gorges dam is a national project, not private… the higher level of government distributes the money but when the money trickles down through the hands of people, like corrupt offical, it just disappears…” The countrie's government can still work to protect the species that are endangered by this dam. These species include over 200 types of fish, whose migration patterns are affected by the dams.

Yu Shui's father (Up the Yangtze) on relocation:

"There is no way we can get compensation...
I feel as though I carried a rock and that the rock has crushed my foot"
I believe that the three gorges dam is a project that has many faults, and : repercussions need to be dealt with in a timely, and appropriate manner. This includes solving relocation, and compensation issues, environment degredation, loss in sources of income for coastal residents, and finally, great attention should be paid to the preservation of cultural sites. Though, the main purposes of the project have the best intentions to control flooding, generate large amounts of alternative energy (turning away from China's abundant use/abuse of coal), and to provide jobs and in turn increase the standard of living for millions. Accessing all of this allows one to conclude that the benefits can outweigh the sacrifices especially if the Chinese government works to solve some problems that generated from the construction of the dam. Bosshard, Peter. "Three Gorges Dam." International Rivers. Retrieved 20 May 2010 from <http://www.internationalrivers.org/node/356>.

Chang, Yung. (2007). “Up the Yangtze.” National Film Board of Canada, EyeSteelFilm.

Hadley, Peter N. "The Three Gorges Dam." Discover Yangtze. Retrieved 17 May 2010 from <http://www.discoveryangtze.com/Yangtzediscovery/three_gorges_dam.htm>.

Hvistendahl, Mara. "China's Three Gorges Dam: An Environmental Catastrophe?" Scientific American. Retrieved 21 May 2010 from <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=chinas-three-gorges-dam-disaster>.

McGivering, Jill. (2006, May 20th). "Three Gorges Dam's Social Impact." BBC News. Retrieved 24 May 2010 from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5000198.stm>.

More People Moved in China near Three Gorges Dam." (2010, January 21st). BBC News. Retrieved 17 May 2010 from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8471793.stm>.

Three Gorges Dam. Photograph. Three Gorges Dam. BBC News. Retrieved 21 May 2010 from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/06/asia_pac_three_gorges_dam/html/1.stm>.

"Up The Yangtze: Passionate Eye Showcase." CBC.ca. CBC News. Retrieved 24 May 2010 from <http://www.cbc.ca/passionateeyesunday/uptheyangtze/>.
All of negative outcomes from the project will act as a lesson for China as well as the internation community in future developement endeavours. Global Society needs to ensure that minorities,history, and habitats are not sacrificed for developement projects regardless of its cause. Are the few benefits of the Three Gorges Dam worth all of the negative impacts that it has had on China? BIG QUESTION:
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