The Three Gorges Dam’s flood control performance continues to generate scrutiny. Jonathan Green for The Market Mogul asks how effective has the dam been period.
President Xi Jinping’s pledge to prioritize environmental protection and halt new development projects on the Yangtze is a promising turnaround for China’s beleaguered river pulse but don’t hold your breath.
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.
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.
While there is no doubt China’s industry-heavy northeast is parched, some critics say China’s geo-engineering South-North Water Diversion project is yet another example of China trying to engineer its way out of a problem that could be largely solved through better policies, such as a tiered pricing system for water and better monitoring. Stian Reklev for Reuters reports.
Read in full Patricia Adams’ closing address to the International Symposium on China’s Environmental Crisis: Is There a Way Out? A resounding “Yes!” says Ms. Adams. “Give power to the people”.
An urgent overhaul of Three Gorges’ Dam management policy to enforce relevant regulations is needed to save various endangered species, improve the environment, and encourage economic development, say the authors of this paper. Xiankun Yang and X X Lu of the National University of Singapore discuss what we’ve learned from this controversial megadam over the past decade.
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.”
(October 28, 2013) This excellent report by Agence France-Presse looks at the growing number of drawbacks posed by China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project and asks whether the $80-billion geo-engineering giant is creating more problems than it is supposed to solve. For example, the strong risk of collecting and distributing tainted water from the supply waterways it draws from, which would render the water carried unusable; the energy required to move water uphill for long sections; the displacement of entire communities in large numbers for reservoir construction, as well as the construction feats required to pull off certain aspects of the project’s plans – such as blasting channels through mountains in earthquake zones on the Tibetan plateau. Not to mention the threat posed by construction of this scale in seismically active zones.
(October 21, 2013) Scientists are using medical technology to study the endangered Yangtze finless porpoise and their critical sense of hearing, used for navigation, to understand how these mammals are managing in the very busy and loud waters of China’s high-traffic Yangtze River. “In a noisy environment, they’d have a hard time hearing their prey or their friend. It makes it more difficult for them to conduct basic biological activities such as foraging, communicating, and navigating in the river,” said biologist and lead author of the survey, Aran Mooney.
(October 12, 2013) This Economist report looks at the gravity of China’s water crisis, once summed up by Wang Shucheng, a former water minister as: “To fight for every drop of water or die: that is the challenge facing China.”
(July 19, 2013) Images show the ugly side of China’s grand dam and its effects on the country’s beloved Yangtze River: rubbish crusts, floating islands of garbage — a plague of filth and issues that exacerbate existing problems and introduce new dangers. Policymic.com reports.