Investigating Whether the River Yangtze Should be Dammed

Investigating Whether the River Yangtze Should be Dammed
Introduction: If everything goes to plan, China by the year 2009 will have finished the biggest, most expensive, and perhaps the most risky hydroelectric project in history. The dam is 1.3-mile-long, 610 ft high and will create a reservoir as long as Lake Superior. The Chinese refer to it as ?the lake within the gorges.? It will meander 385 miles upstream through cliffs, all the way from the concrete ?megadam? near Yichang upriver to Chongqing. The reservoir?s 10.4 trillion gallons of water will force almost two million valley residents to move from their homes and farmlands with fertile land, as well as the ancient tombs of their ancestors. The people from 13 cities, hundreds nearly thousands of villages, 955 businesses and factories, farmers will have to evacuate 115,000 acres of the richest farmland along the river basin and relocate in unknown, possibly inhospitable territory with lower living standards. This essay will cover the social, economic and environmental effects of this monumental scheme. Where are the Three Gorges?: [image] The waters draining into this huge river, some 6380 Km, come from a massive catchment area. The river flows southwards from the high Qinghai Plateaus and into Tibet. The river from here flows south and almost reaches the Tropics before zigzagging its way north eastwards.
Next it flows into the enclosed basin of Sichuan. From here the river heads eastwards through long deep gorges. The Three Gorges Dam is situated near Wuhan. Click this image for the next page. Social Effects: As a result of the dam being built almost 10 million people are having to be evacuated and most are receiving only a small portion of the $3.2 million the government promised them as compensation money, because most of it is going into the pockets of their own local officials. The main downside is that the old residents of the 13 cities that will be flooded will most likely be worse off and with a lot lower standard of living than they had previously. Although there is still one advantage, this is that electricity will become cheaper, and flood control more efficient. Although many critics believe that earthquakes may become more frequent due to the sheer weight of water on the fault lines. Click this image for the next page. Economic Effects: With China owning the biggest dam in the world, tourism to China and the dam is likely to increase. Although critics believe that tourism will only generate a fraction of the dam?s overall cost. More jobs will be brought the area during the construction of the dam and after it is completed people will be needed to run it. During the construction the contractors used in the construction of the dam will bring an enormous influx of money to the surrounding areas. The power generated by the dam will also ensure a viable future for businesses in the area. Environmental Effects: The Yangtze is becoming the largest sewer in China. There are over 3,000 factories and mines in the reservoir area producing 10 billion tons of waste per year containing 50 different types? toxins. The dam will slow the flow of water and lower the ?dissipation? capacity of the water. Assuming the waste water level remains unchanged, the waste content will increase 10.36 times in some areas. This could have a considerable effect on the riverside environment. Hydrologists are concerned about the high degree of sedimentation in the Yangtze River which causes the water to turn a brownish colour. Critics believe the dam will cause the sediment, which is now hanging in the water and carried downstream, to pile up around the intended port installation at the end of the reservoir, clogging sewage pipes and causing dangerous sewage build ups and floods in Chongqing, a city which contains 15 million people whose sewage all flows into the Yangtze. The sluice gates of the Banqiao dam were partly blocked by sediment so the engineers could not open them to free the rising waters during a storm. Critics are afraid the same thing could happen in the Three Gorges Dam. Dam engineers say this will not happen again if the reservoir is managed correctly. American environmentalists have joined the Chinese opposition, claiming the river obstruction will endanger, or make completely extinct, the Chinese alligator, the finless porpoise, the white crane, the river dolphin, as well as the rare Chinese sturgeon which is unique to the Yangtze River. These huge fish are twelve feet in length and date back to the age of the dinosaurs. They are considered by scientists to be among the earth?s few living fossils. They were considered by the Ancients to be descended from the river dragon itself. A dragon that the Chinese have learned can go berserk when challenged by mortals. Click this image for the next page. Conclusion: In my opinion the river Yangtze should not be dammed instead there should be a series of smaller dams built in other viable places around the river. I future wars this would be a main target and if destroyed could kill over 12 000 000 people outright. Now that the dragon believed by the Chinese to cause havoc when disturbed, has indeed been challenged. It will be interesting to see what the future brings. Will the dam bring prosperity to the one flood stricken area and a plentiful supply of electricity or will the environmentalist?s fears be realised.

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