Three Gorges Dam Essay Research Paper 10

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Three Gorges Dam Essay, Research Paper 1.0 Introduction This report examines the Three Gorge dam project and its impacts on the environment, the people it will effect and measures that can be taken as an alternative to the dam. I will discuss the Chinese government’s reasoning for constructing the dam and the negative aspects of such a construction. Then I will explain the more environmentally friendly and logical alternatives. 2.0 Background The concept of the Three Gorge dam is over 75 years old, dating back to when it was first proposed by the nationalist leader Sun Yat-Sen, in 1919. The dam was a dream of communist leader Mao Zedong, who felt it would be a potent symbol of China’s self-sufficiency and ability to develop without western aid. The state media has

reported only the rosy side of the Three Gorges project, presenting it as a powerful symbol of a new, prosperous China. Outgoing Premier Li Peng said the Three Gorges Dam would ”demonstrate to the world that the Chinese people have the ability to build the biggest and most beneficial irrigation and hydro-electric project in the world”. The Three Gorges refers to a 120-mile stretch of limestone cliffs along the upper reaches of the Yangzi River where the water drops precipitously through the Qutang, Wu, and Xiling gorges. The region is linked to folklore and important historical events, and its beauty has inspired Chinese painters and classical poets such as Li Bai for centuries. The dam, which will be 1.3 miles long and 610 feet high, is expected to be completed by 2009. It

will create a 385 mile-long reservoir stretching back up the river that will totally engulf the Three Gorges, as well as 115,000 acres of rich farmland, thirteen cities, hundreds of villages, and countless historic temples and archaeological sites. Between 1.4 and 1.9 million people will need to be resettled. 3.0 Reasoning for construction The proponents of the dam claim that the introduction of such a large amount of clean hydroelectric power into China’s rapidly expanding economy will mean a significant reduction in the emission of fossil fuel pollution. First, it will generate 18000 megawatts of electricity, which would reduce the country’s reliance on coal by one tenth. Hence reducing China’s overall greenhouse gases. Second, it will prevent the periodical flooding of

the Yangzi, which has already claimed the lives of half a million this century alone. The dam is expected to cut incidents of serious flood from once in 10 years to once in 100 years. At present 15 million lives are at stake as the river rises higher above the surrounding land because of sediment deposits on the riverbed, while dikes can no longer be raised safely. Third, it will make the upper part of the Yangzi more navigable, “raising the river’s navigable tonnage by a big margin”. Improved navigability would allow ocean-going freighters to penetrate the depths of China’s remote Southwest, bringing much needed economic development and prosperity to the region. The project is also expected to develop reservoir fisheries, stimulate tourism in and around the reservoir,

improve water quality downstream, protect the lake areas downstream, and enable south-to-north water transfer sometime in the next century. 4.0 Dilemmas surrounding dam construction There are many problems entangled with the construction of such a dam, two of which stand out. First, the fact that so many civilians have to be moved against their will. 13 cities, 140 towns, more than 1600 villages, and 300 factories will be submerged, and nearly 1.5 million people relocated. Second, the effects that the rise in level of river will have on the environment. This includes the destruction of habitats for at least four indigenous species in the area. 4.1 Human rights issue According to official figures, 10.2 million people have been relocated for the construction of dams in the past in