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?
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.
Geologists predict more frequent catastrophes in China’s Three Gorges Dam region, after landslides wipe out a hydropower plant. Fan Xiao and Yang Yong, the authors of several reports for Probe International, speak to thethirdpole.net about a disaster-prone region made more perilous by intensive hydropower development and call for new risk assessments to be carried out.
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.
The 6.5-magnitude earthquake that devastated southwestern China’s Yunnan Province on August 3 and killed nearly 600 is linked to the world’s largest and most intensive dam-building scheme on the Jinsha River, says renowned, independent geologist-explorer, Yang Yong.
Bombed, breached, hacked … dams have a long history as weapons of war, seized on or attacked for their capacity to wreak massive havoc and suffering.
“Why do earthquakes keep happening in that area?” In the wake of China’s 6.1 magnitude quake in Yunnan Province and a number of smaller quakes in the region, questions are once again being asked about the country’s rush to build big dams in its southwestern mountains, an area already vulnerable to seismic hazard.
(April 9, 2014) Another earthquake has struck China’s seismically hazardous southwestern region in the same vicinity as one of the country’s mega-dams. Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao says there is a “high probability” the Xiluodu dam, China’s second and the world’s third biggest hydropower power plant, triggered the quake.
(February 3, 2014) Chinese geologist Fan Xiao investigates once again if the impoundment of a large dam reservoir triggered a series of earthquakes in the seismically active southwest region of China? Based on data collected by China Seismic Information (CSI), Mr. Fan says, ‘Yes’. Not only were the November 22, 2013, seismic events recorded in Sichuan, China not naturally occurring or isolated incidents, he says the region should prepare for stronger, “even destructive earthquakes” as a result of further impoundment.
(December 20, 2013) High-profile Chinese geologist Fan Xiao — and the author of several reports for Probe International — notes with interest the rush by China’s state media, and the country’s official seismological agency, to dismiss a link between the 5.1-magnitude Badong County earthquake on Monday and the Three Gorges Dam reservoir. A dismissal that runs contrary to common sense and the basic facts of seismic analysis, says Mr. Fan, who believes reservoir-induced-seismicity (RIS), triggered by impoundment of the massive dam, was likely behind the recent quake and could induce stronger earthquakes in the region.
(December 16, 2013) A 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous and populous area of China’s Hubei Province today, 100 kilometres from the Three Gorges Dam site. Officials have been quick to reassure the public that the dam has remained intact and is operating normally after the event, which occurred at 1:04 p.m. in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Badong County. Aftershocks and quake-triggered landslides are expected. What more could there be to this story?
(September 10, 2013) On the dreadful night of June 4, 1989, when the students in Tiananmen Square were mowed down by the People’s Liberation Army, the path to another tragedy, the damming of the Yangtze, was laid, says Dai Qing, China’s most famous environmentalist and longtime advocate of freedom of speech.
(July 30, 2013) Fan Xiao, a Chinese geologist and chief engineer of the Regional Geological Survey Team of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau, says analysis of the recent landslide in Yunnan Province indicates that impoundment of the nearby Xiluodu Dam reservoir most likely caused the event and that more can be expected when the reservoir is filled again. Sharply rising or rapidly falling reservoir water levels pose a threat to geological stability, he says, and can trigger disaster.