Three Gorges Dam

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 99
  • Published: May 11, 2008
Read full document
Text Preview
The Three Gorges Dam, when completed, will be the largest dam ever constructed, spanning 2.3 kilometers and holding back more then 39 billion cubic meters of water (Three Gorges). In 2007, the population hit 1.3 billion. The strain on China’s resources is immense and because of this China has had to invest in many large projects throughout the country. One of its most important needs is energy. China’s power consumption in 2005 was 2.494 trillion kilowatt hours (Cunningham 327). China has built dozens of dams throughout the country in order to loosen the stress on their power grid (Three Gorges). China’s largest undertaking, the Three Gorges Dam also known as the Sanxia Dam on the Yangtze River will significantly alter China’s landscape. The Three Gorges Dam is receiving world wide recognition because of its enormous scale and the problems that are arising from it. China’s Three Gorges Dam is initiating positive changes to their economy, but negative changes to their environment and social well being. The Three Gorges Dam was designed to help China’s expanding economy and to control the violent Yangtze River. With a maximum output of 17,680 megawatts China’s Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest power project (Three Gorges). The dam has been a dream of Chinese leaders Sun Yat-Sen, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping over the past 80 years. The dam is said to be a “symbol of the superiority of the socialist system” according to China’s parliament (International Rivers). When the project is completed in 2008 it will be the world largest dam and hydroelectric power plant, which will hold back more water then any other dam in the world. Currently the Brazilian Itaipu Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric dam with an output of 12,600 megawatts of power, but the Page 3

Three Gorges Dam, when completed in 2008, will surpass this number with an output of 17,680 megawatts (Edmonds 67). The Yangtze River has always been a problem for China, flooding frequently and causing chaos. Massive flooding in the Chang River valley, along the Yangtze River, in 1931 was responsible for the deaths of 140,000 people (Zhang 478). Then, in June 1991 flooding left 10 million people homeless. The official death toll reached 3,074(Zhang 478). The damage estimates totaled about one-quarter of the total Chinese budget for 1991(Zhang 478). The flooding situation on the Yangtze River is relentless, with floods in 1995, 1996, and 1998(Zhang 478). The Three Gorges Dam will regulate the Yangtze River and prevent devastating floods like the 1991 flood. The dam will also lessen the strain on China’s power grid, allow for economic expansion, and aid in China’s transition to a market economy. China’s Three Gorges Dam is changing China’s landscape and is having detrimental effects to its environment. The Three Gorges Dam is hurting the environment in many ways including the increase of land slides and pollution along with a decrease of silt and marine life in the Yangtze River. On July 12, 2003, one month after the filling of the reservoir behind the Three Gorges Dam in Qianjiangping a huge land slide destroyed four factories, 300 homes, 67 acres of farmland, along with the death of 24 people (Cunningham327). Three days after the incident the Three Gorges Dam Office announced that the landslide was due to heavy rainfall, but an investigation of several research institutes reported the landslide was because of the rising of the Yangtze River (Cunningham327). The farmers down river from the Three Gorges Dam are facing the same problems that the farmers down stream from the Aswan High Dam in Egypt are Page 4

having, silt. When dams are built on a river they block important nutrients called silt which is a natural fertilizer. When the silt does not flow downstream farmers must import fertilizer, which is harmful to the environment. China is already seeing the serious pollution problems caused by the fertilizer and pesticides from the farmers. The pollution of...
tracking img