This Huffington Post blog, by Peter Neill, founder and director of the World Ocean Observatory, looks at the global love affair with big dams and the perils of forcing water to acquiesce to political ambitions and national pride, and the sometimes dangerous results of doing so.
Construction of a controversial hydropower project that would flood one of the last remaining unaltered stretches along China’s famed Yangtze River has been blocked by the country’s environmental regulators — a surprise defeat in the face of an unrestrained dam-building boom that many opponents worry will cause an irreversible legacy of damage.
The author of “Meltdown in Tibet” challenges China’s claims its cascade dams planned for the trans-boundary Brahmaputra River pose no impacts for downstream communities. “These dams are just the start of things,” he says. If all the proposed dams go into operation “the river will never be the same again”. Free Press Journal reports.
Low water levels and stranded boats on the upper Mekong River — although, nothing new for a February in recent years — are once again stirring concerns over China’s dam-building program to the north. What is new is the apparent readiness of Chinese authorities to give an account of their actions to rectify the situation. The Lowy Interpreter reports.
Late last year, Mu Lan, the editor of Probe International’s Three Gorges Probe news service in Chinese, followed the central leg of China’s massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project with his camera as it made its way from Hubei Province to Beijing, the project’s ultimate destination.
This spotlight on mega-dams of note, profiled by International Rivers’ Peter Bosshard for The Guardian, lists more banes than boons with a quest Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, famously described as the “disease of gigantism.”
Increasing demand for natural catastrophe insurance has provided the world’s largest reinsurer, Munich Re, with its biggest market in the Asia Pacific region: China. But how will Munich Re classify disasters, such as earthquakes, in a country where seismic events are a growing subject of debate as to how many are natural and how many are man-made?
Despite its long lineage as one of the world’s oldest living species, the Chinese sturgeon — known as the “living fossil” because it dates back to the Cretaceous period — may not survive the surging dams and bridges built over the Yangtze River, reports China Daily.
Images taken by Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao during trips to the Three Gorges Dam reservoir area in 2012 and 2013, portray the dramatic changes that have taken place since the dam’s construction more than 20 years ago.
Astonishing changes in the life and environment of Chongqing: 20 years after the construction of the Three Gorges Dam: Fan Xiao
Twenty years after the completion of China’s monumental Three Gorges Dam, a new study by Chinese geologist Fan Xiao finds the mega-project’s impacts on his hometown of Chongqing, some 600 kilometres upstream, have been dramatic. Lost in the dam’s grand scale are the harsh consequences borne by the region’s environment and economy; its after-effects are felt most intensely by the individuals and communities struggling to adapt in the immense shadow of China’s largest public works effort since the Great Wall.
Beijing-based media group, Caixin, reports on Chinese geologist Fan Xiao’s research supporting a link between a 6.5-magnitude earthquake in China’s Yunnan Province in early August and the filling of dam reservoirs in the area. Several Probe International studies are cited.
Improving navigation conditions and increasing shipping capacity through the Three Gorges area along China’s famed Yangtze River was one of the chief reasons cited in favour of moving the project forward. Bottlenecks and shipping delays have become routine from the get-go, however, despite construction of the largest shiplock in the world to help ease hold-ups.
China’s ambitious South-to-North Water Diversion project officially begins flowing next month and the impacts of the costly geo-engineering giant are starting to be felt in the regions tapped to redistribute water to the country’s parched north. “This project from the beginning has been as controversial as the Three Gorges,” says Probe International fellow and leading Chinese environmental journalist, Dai Qing.
Another major earthquake has struck China’s Yunnan Province. Close to the epicenter of the earthquake are a number of hydropower dams. We asked Chinese geologist Fan Xiao: “Is there a link?”
Is China’s hydropower safe? Bloomberg’s Adam Minter cites Probe International’s investigations into the link between China’s dam-building and the surge in earthquakes.