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The Environmental Impact Of The Three Gorges Dam

1615 words - 6 pages

The Three Gorges Hydroelectric Dam was envisioned as China’s new symbol of power in a world that is driven by the latest innovations. However, today it is viewed around the world as a catastrophic environmental disaster that became a reality through corruption, improper planning, and complete disregard to pleas of warning. The dam was China’s answer to control annual flooding, a problem that in 1998 displaced 300 million Chinese who lived on the banks of the Yangtze River. It was also China’s tactic to increase international trade by deepening the Yangtze River to accommodate large cargo ships farther into Mainland China. Most importantly, it was China’s 24 billion dollar investment to decrease the annual burning of 50 million tons of coal with the goal of producing 10 percent of China’s total electricity needs by 2012 in response to the needs of its growing population. Despite these goals of economic growth and clean energy production, government officials ‘cut-corners’ during inspection to save money and refused to listen to warnings from engineers and environmentalists regarding the potential environmental devastation. “China decided to launch the project – then solve the problems along the way.” (John Byrne, the director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy)
Located next to the town of Sandopuping in south-central China, after 17 years of construction, the Three Gorges Dam is a modern marvel that now stands as the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. It spans 1.3 miles across the Yangtze River, the world’s third largest river, and stands 610ft high. The Yangtze River runs 3,937 miles from the province of Qinghai in eastern China to Shanghai feeding into the East China Sea. The dam may be a modern marvel but to the more than one million inhabitants, who 17 years ago lived along the banks of the Yangtze River as fishers and farmers, the dam is an inescapable nightmare.
The construction of the dam posed a challenge to government workers as they sought to relocate 1.4 million inhabitants away from the Yangtze River and into apartments in newly constructed cities, such as Yun Yang. After the dam was completed in 2009, the water level of the Yangtze River raised nearly 600ft and engulfed entire cities. In total, 400 miles of farmland, 4,000 villages, 140 towns, and 13 cities are now completely submerged under water. In the newly constructed cities, displaced people have homes but there are very few job opportunities. Although some people find that the apartments are an upgrade from previous living conditions, many families now cannot afford to send their children to school. The government persuaded people to leave their homes near the river with the promise of land and compensation but most only a government subsidy of $7 per week . Many families must sell their new apartments back to the government and live in poverty to support their children. Also destroyed by the raising water has been more than...

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