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The devastating after effects of 3 Gorges Dam

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#1 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 03:26 PM

"China's massive Three Gorges Dam, which has already displaced more than 1 million people,
may have claimed a new victim:
Environmental researchers say it has helped turn the country's largest freshwater lake into a
dried-out plain.
Typically, Poyang lake covers 3,500 square kilometers in eastern China, but "last month
only 200 square kilometers were underwater," leaving fishermen bereft and freighters unable to cross, according to a Le Monde story The Guardian ran this week:
A 'Pitiful Trickle Of Water'

A dried-out plain stretches as far as the eye can see, leaving a pagoda perched on top of a hillock that is usually a little island. Wrapped in the mist characteristic of the lower reaches of the Yangtze river, the barges are moored close to the quayside beside a pitiful trickle of water.

The drought affecting Poyang is the worst in 60 years. :huh:
The government blames low rainfall levels, which are certainly a factor, but researcher
Ye Xuchun told the paper that the dam 500 kilometers upstream has dramatically reduced flow levels on the Yangtze River, which is linked to the lake.
According to a report he co-authored, an increase in the depth of the Three Gorges' reservoir
in 2006 led to a significant drop in Poyang's water level -- a dynamic they say is being
repeated today.
Harm To Fish, Migratory Birds
China admitted last year for the first time that the dam was having a "negative impact" on
downstream water supplies, but appears
not to have taken any measures :ohmy:
to address the problem.
The region's environmental balance has been "seriously affected" this year, an official at the Lake Poyang Research Center told Le Monde, explaining that the loss of fish in the lake has also kept migratory birds from being able to rest and refuel there.

"The soil of China is dry, so the Yangtze is vital," another researcher, Xu Bin, told the paper.
"Poyang is one of the key elements and its current predicament is a warning for the future."


http://www.treehugge...m-to-blame.html

#2 yoder

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 03:47 PM

China is getting hit from all sides because of its growth, increased energy utilization, fossil energy production and its alternative energy production.  Not that I feel sorry for them (they made their bed just like we have), but I do see them in a damned if you do damned if you don't position here.  They can keep building coal power plants and watch the desert encroach on their farm land ever faster, or they can build dams and displace millions and change the face of the country.

#3 13tyates

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 04:42 PM

It just shows the little they looked into the consequences. If they did then they ignored them because there had to be a better way to deal with things then make these monumental problems arise! I think China just has been dealing with to much growth and development. They have to skip steps to keep up with demand and right now they are paying for it and they will for years to come also.

#4 mariaandrea

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 08:22 PM

That is sad and alarming. I remember distinctly being alarmed when the project was first announced. It displaced so many people and changed the landscape so dramatically and it's just so huge. I am sympathetic to the challenges China faces in providing energy to an enormous population, along with food and everything else, and they do make attempts here and there to become more environmentally friendly and they're practically reinventing their economy, but on the other hand, given the goverment they have, they have an opportunity to force a "green" state if they want. They need better long-term planning.

#5 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 03:51 AM

I was hoping to find the link to the PBS program on the three gorges dam but can't.
But I did find some background info on the film.
I remember the locals in the film and archaeologists racing against time to relocate buried finds for safe keeping,
but they ran out of time.
More links on the subject are on the left margin.
http://www.pbs.org/i...ntroversy3.html

#6 yoder

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 07:03 AM

 13tyates, on 03 February 2012 - 04:42 PM, said:

It just shows the little they looked into the consequences.

But they did look into the consequences, and they saw that they had 2 choices.  Any 3rd choice (go only green non-disruptive tech for example) would have left China out of the trillions of dollars that helped lift many Chinese out of poverty and into middle and even upper class.

They have done what they feel is the best for the most Chinese.  And even if we don't like the damage that is being done, are there any of us who have a better idea that would have brought as much business and wealth to China in as short a period of time?  Because I can say that "sitting on your hands and do nothing while other countries get insanely rich" is not a realistic option.  And using only green and non-disruptive technology would not have allowed for the growth and increased wealth that they have experienced.

#7 jasserEnv

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 09:39 PM

China has been famous for their 5 year plans and they could have ramped up more slowly than they did. They had the control to do so like no other country in the world. Now their cities are at risk of collapsing under unsustainable debt loads from expansion, they have destroyed the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers (a massive population) with approaches to growth that displaced these people or left them with land and water too polluted to use, they have massive migrant populations in their cities and their labor is now becoming costly enough that they are having to outsource their work to other countries to cut costs. If they had gone slower, they would be would be in better shape today, regardless of whether they used green technologies or not. It's just my opinion but I have read a lot about China growing too fast and paying the consequences.

#8 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 03:07 AM

 jasserEnv, on 04 February 2012 - 09:39 PM, said:

China has been famous for their 5 year plans and they could have ramped up more slowly than they did. They had the control to do so like no other country in the world. Now their cities are at risk of collapsing under unsustainable debt loads from expansion, they have destroyed the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers (a massive population) with approaches to growth that displaced these people or left them with land and water too polluted to use, they have massive migrant populations in their cities and their labor is now becoming costly enough that they are having to outsource their work to other countries to cut costs. If they had gone slower, they would be would be in better shape today, regardless of whether they used green technologies or not. It's just my opinion but I have read a lot about China growing too fast and paying the consequences.
Agreed.
Not only that, but when the population goes from a farm based society to a tech society, consumption
of all goods goes up. A large percentage of people have moved to the cities and are consuming goods
at an alarming rate.
That may have been inevitable, but powering thousands more businesses/homes may have contributed
to it.

#9 yoder

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:38 AM

I agree that if China had forced themselves to not grow as quickly as they did that they may have done less damage to the environment along the way.  If China had gone only alternative and non-disruptive energy to supply their growth they would be in a very different place right now.

But when you have a billion people looking at the west and seeing all of the "things" and "cool stuff" and convenience that the west has, and wanting that for themselves, even the mighty Chinese government has to listen.

If I try, I can find it quite reasonable to sit here in my comfortable house, with my conveniences and say, "bad China.  You people should have done what we wanted you to do, when we wanted you to do it, and how we wanted you to do it."  But seriously, I can't even get my own country to do that.  I wanted us to stay out of 2 wars and where did that get me?  I wanted us to vote honest and intelligent people into Government and where did that get me?

#10 jasserEnv

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:54 AM

I think the difference is that China has a ridiculous amount of power over its people but failed to use it for the benefit of their people. They don't have the same problems as a democracy with their authoritarian rule. That is why I mentioned the 5 year plans. They could have used that power to improve everyone's lives more gradually. Instead, they have risked massive protests from disrupting what has largely been an agricultural society. The farmers have been protesting against losing land and pollution that damages their land, not that they needed a new smartphone. People have only been migrating as a result of the large numbers of better paying jobs that have come with rapidly based industrialization. This is where I think they could have gone more slowly and not generated so much financial debt and environmental damage for their citizens.

#11 yoder

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:08 AM

Your are correct that the farmers were protesting for their farms and not so they could have smartphones.  And if the Chinese government had heeded their cry, the country would arguably be in better shape now.  But the farmers voices were drown out 1,000 to 1 by those who did want smartphones and cars and big houses.

And even though China's government is authoritarian and they can make decisions without the people's consent, they simply are not all powerful.  They still have to listen to the masses to some extent, because they want to keep the peace.

#12 Mike_Hollis

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:33 AM

I'd also strongly recommend the documentary Up the Yangtze... I came across it accidentally a few months ago while browsing through Netflix. It really examines the social impact of the 3 Gorges project beautifully (particularly how different socioeconomic classes are responding to the resulting environmental changes).

The film seems to agree with many of the member comments here: there was strong objection to the project from communities in the flood zone, but the local farmers lacked the tools and techniques to organize against it (and in many cases, they simply considered the dam an inevitability given the political power of the project's supporters).

 Shortpoet-GTD, on 04 February 2012 - 03:51 AM, said:

I was hoping to find the link to the PBS program on the three gorges dam but can't.
But I did find some background info on the film.
I remember the locals in the film and archaeologists racing against time to relocate buried finds for safe keeping,
but they ran out of time.
More links on the subject are on the left margin.


#13 yoder

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:38 AM

 Mike_Hollis, on 05 February 2012 - 11:33 AM, said:

I'd also strongly recommend the documentary Up the Yangtze... I came across it accidentally a few months ago while browsing through Netflix. It really examines the social impact of the 3 Gorges project beautifully (particularly how different socioeconomic classes are responding to the resulting environmental changes).

The film seems to agree with many of the member comments here: there was strong objection to the project from communities in the flood zone, but the local farmers lacked the tools and techniques to organize against it (and in many cases, they simply considered the dam an inevitability given the political power of the project's supporters).

That was a great documentary.  Very highly recommended.

#14 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 03:51 AM

 Mike_Hollis, on 05 February 2012 - 11:33 AM, said:

I'd also strongly recommend the documentary Up the Yangtze... I came across it accidentally a few months ago while browsing through Netflix. It really examines the social impact of the 3 Gorges project beautifully (particularly how different socioeconomic classes are responding to the resulting environmental changes).

The film seems to agree with many of the member comments here: there was strong objection to the project from communities in the flood zone, but the local farmers lacked the tools and techniques to organize against it (and in many cases, they simply considered the dam an inevitability given the political power of the project's supporters).
Thanks! That must have been the one I was searching for.

#15 joeldgreat

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 09:03 PM

As the dam sits on the seismic fault, at least 80% of the land in the area is experiencing soil erosion. It resulted to about 40 million tons of sediment deposited in the Yangtze riven every year.

And since the flow of water is slower above the dam, much of these sediment will now settle instead of flowing downstream, so there will be less sediment downstream. This leads to major effects such as flooding, biological damage and reduces aquatic biodiversity.

#16 Shortpoet-GTD

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 02:45 AM

 joeldgreat, on 17 February 2012 - 09:03 PM, said:

And since the flow of water is slower above the dam, much of these sediment will now settle instead of flowing downstream,
so there will be less sediment downstream. This leads to major effects such as flooding, biological damage and reduces aquatic biodiversity.
You bring up a good point joel, and that's true with all dams.
http://www.mtholyoke...ntalimpact.html
http://www.americanr...nd/10-ways.html

#17 still learning

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 08:58 AM

 joeldgreat, on 17 February 2012 - 09:03 PM, said:

........And since the flow of water is slower above the dam, much of these sediment will now settle instead of flowing downstream, so there will be less sediment downstream. This leads to major effects such as flooding.......

Are you saying that there can be increased flooding downstream of the dam?  Could you explain?  
I thought one of the effects of dams was to reduce downstream flooding.  Let the dam reservoir drop down during dry periods (generating electricity as the water flows through turbogenerators), then let it refill during wet periods.  Reduces downstream flow during the refill when there might have been flooding without the dam.  Can be mismanaged and end up with no net flood reduction benefit, but I didn't think it made things worse in that regard.

Perhaps you meant that eventually, if the dam and reservoir is mismanaged there can be flooding trouble.

Lots of problems though: http://www.scientifi...es-dam-disaster

#18 artistry

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 07:08 PM

From what I have read regarding this dam, the entire situation has turned into an envirornmental disaster, to say the least. So many people displaced, the fish dying. They did a horrendous job of planning, and if there were protests, no one paid any attention to them.

#19 sculptor

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:30 AM

 still learning, on 18 February 2012 - 08:58 AM, said:

Are you saying that there can be increased flooding downstream of the dam?  Could you explain?  
I thought one of the effects of dams was to reduce downstream flooding.  Let the dam reservoir drop down during dry periods (generating electricity as the water flows through turbogenerators), then let it refill during wet periods.  Reduces downstream flow during the refill when there might have been flooding without the dam.  Can be mismanaged and end up with no net flood reduction benefit, but I didn't think it made things worse in that regard.

Perhaps you meant that eventually, if the dam and reservoir is mismanaged there can be flooding trouble.

Lots of problems though: http://www.scientifi...es-dam-disaster

SL,
think estuaries, and fan shaped river deltas-------without a constant resupply of sediment, the land will slowly subside
this is happening on all major damned rivers------the Mississippi delta is losing thousands of acres every year,(houses, fields and forests are all submerged there---a constant and permanent flood) and has been for a couple generations------------in some years, the yellow river and the Colorado never reach the sea-------------
think out 50-100+ years when the dams' rereservoirs silt in and are replaced by millions of acres of deep rich sedimentary soils, and the rivers flow differently

#20 still learning

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 01:13 PM

 sculptor, on 27 February 2012 - 09:30 AM, said:

SL,
think estuaries, and fan shaped river deltas-------without a constant resupply of sediment, the land will slowly subside
this is happening on all major damned rivers------the Mississippi delta is losing thousands of acres every year,(houses, fields and forests are all submerged there---a

I thought that the loss of Mississippi Delta land was because the levees in the delta  prevented ordinary spring flood silt from reaching the places it needed to go to offset the subsidence that you describe.  Silt that used to spread out in the delta each spring is now "channelized" out the main mouth of the river into the Gulf of Mexico.  The Mississippi is still pretty muddy even with upstream dams on some tributaries.
Loss of silt downstream of dams does have some unwanted effects, for sure.  I guess Egyptian farmers now have to fertilize because the Aswan dam stops the rejuvenating silt from upstream from reaching the farmer's fields from as it used to for thousands of years before.  
Could a silted up reservoir make good farmland someday?  I don't see why not.

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