In the wake of the 6.5-magnitude earthquake in China’s Yunnan Province on August 3 that claimed the lives of more than 600 people, Chinese geologist Fan Xiao has released new data that supports a link between that event and the region’s mega-dams.
Already, newly completed cascade dams along China’s Lancang River are altering the river’s hydrological regime and sediment flow, blocking fish migration and posing a risk to food security and livelihoods. As more cascade dams roll out along the Lancang, International Rivers offers a better understanding through their research of the environmental impacts of current development and what further impacts can be expected as more projects come online.
(May 27, 2014) Another excellent entry in a growing number of critiques examining China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project and the controversial geo-engineering giant’s large-scale problems.
(May 16, 2014) Lake Poyang, the largest freshwater lake in China, has in the past decade suffered record low water levels and its worst drought in 60 years. Although uneven rainfall patterns and industry on the lake are partly behind the decline in volume, the Three Gorges Dam has emerged as a major cause of the lake’s shocking dry-up. On a recent trip to China, Mu Lan, the editor of Probe International’s Chinese Three Gorges Probe news service, explored the link between Poyang’s crisis and the country’s hydro colossus.
(May 16, 2014) Mu Lan, the editor of our Chinese Three Gorges Probe news service, documents in pictures the decline of China’s largest freshwater lake on the southern bank of the Yangtze River in east China’s Jiangxi Province for his report, “Is the Three Gorges Dam to blame for extreme drought in the Lake Poyang area?”
(March 19, 2014) A corruption scandal in China involving the country’s largest, state-backed oil companies has some analysts talking about a “buying opportunity”, but investors would be right to proceed with caution.
China is so bad at conservation that it had to launch the most impressive water-pipeline project ever
(March 17, 2014) Reporter Lily Kuo takes an in-depth look at China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project — the world’s largest water diversion conceived originally by Mao Zedong as a way to relieve North China’s dwindling water resources by “borrowing” from the south of the country. But not even the project’s leaders are pretending the mammoth, ultra-complex, $80-billion scheme will solve China’s water problem. Moreover, it has already created extra problems. Kuo concludes the project is another example of an engineer-dominated government’s fondness for huge-scale vanity projects with a particular weakness for mega-water works. No wonder. Without the man-made institutions — a robust regulatory regime and the rule of law — the Chinese government is bereft of tools to induce the efficient use (and conservation) of water. And so it builds canals and moves water from one watershed to another, creating havoc and perpetuating the problem of China’s crippling water crisis.
(March 17, 2014) Part two of Lily Kuo’s substantial overview of China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project (SNWDP) and its resettlement process. Kuo notes that since 1949, more than 45 million Chinese have been displaced by infrastructure projects and, of those, 12 million have been moved for water schemes. The water projects, she notes, have a particularly depressing record in terms of outcomes for the resettled. Although there are signs, she says, of villagers moved for the SNWDP receiving better care than those in the past, the same old resettlement problems abound. Worst of all, there are no farms to tend and jobs to do. “This isn’t a life,” says one migrant of the soul-destroying joblessness. “In the morning, you see everyone sleeps in. In the afternoon, they play cards. That’s it.”
(November 12, 2013) China’s current fever for hydro development is such that even its unparalleled Three Gorges mega-dam now ranks as a mere fraction of its long-term dam agenda, reports Charles Lewis for Yale Environment 360. While China’s need for energy is undisputed, its emphasis on dam construction risks an irreversible legacy of damage the country may never recover from and flies in the face of its present Five Year Plan to develop clean energy, reduce pollution, and protect the environment, says Lewis. Echoing Probe International’s coverage of the innumerable threats posed by construction on such an unprecedented scale, Lewis presents here a valuable and succinct overview of the dangers China’s dam fever represents to its waterways, ecosystems, agriculture and fisheries, traditional livelihoods, species survival and even to its geological stability, as Probe International’s alarming 2012 findings revealed.
(May 31, 2013) The process of diverting water from the Yangtze River through the eastern route of China’s massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project began this week after 11 years since construction began. Although the water diversion intended for drought-prone cities in China’s arid northern regions “will enrich the water supply in the north, its impact on the ecosystem is irreversible,” said Ma Jun, an environmentalist.
(April 29, 2013) Understanding the forces behind China’s magnitude-7 earthquake in Sichuan Province more than a week ago should sound warning bells. Patricia Adams digs deep into the country’s recent rash of earthquakes in southwestern China and finds the region’s seismic risk is increasingly man-made.
(February 14, 2013) A dramatic push by China’s new leadership to revive a political passion for large dam projects has ignited concerns for neighbouring countries and environmentalists.
(November 29, 2012) As the most dammed country in the world and the largest exporter of dams abroad, China ranks as a hydropower-producing powerhouse with a wealth of experience that should inspire reassurance. The opposite is often the case, however, given China’s disregard for international social and environmental standards, both at home and overseas. A new action guide produced by the US-based environmental NGO, International Rivers Network, aims to help watchdogs of China’s ‘going out’ projects in their efforts to ensure safety and the rights of local communities affected by Chinese dam construction.
(November 23, 2012) The proposed takeover of Calgary-based oil and gas producer Nexen by China’s state-owned oil giant CNOOC should be nixed by the Canadian government, says Probe International’s Patricia Adams. As instruments of the Communist Party, China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are undisciplined by markets or the rule of law. Without subsidies, their rate of return on equity is negative. It would be impossible to stop them from distorting the Canadian economy, so Canada should just say no to CNOOC.
(November 21, 2012) As populist Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao prepares to retire, China’s new leadership is already looking at an aggressive plan to ramp up hydro capacity, as part of its ambitious 2020 energy goals. Under Wen, whose common touch earned him the nickname ‘Grandpa Wen’, a number of projects were shelved, including a series of dams on Yunnan’s untouched, UNESCO-protected Nu River – this is now slated for construction. The following Reuters report, by David Stanway, looks at the prospect of a renewed dam push in a country already struck by development fever. A tough sell, he notes, as an increasingly affluent middle-class – also the drivers of China’s consumption boom – push back against China’s “growth at all costs” economic model.