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1. Yangtze River China’s Yangtze River is China’s longest river and the 3rd largest in the world behind the Amazon and Nile.
It is 3,964 miles long and empties into the East China Sea at Shanghai.
2. Yangtze’s Source The source of the Yangtze is the Plateau of Tibet in western China
3. Chang Jiang Most Chinese refer to the Yangtze as the Chang Jiang which means “Long River”
It’s watershed encompasses 700,000 sq. miles (1/5 of China’s total land area).
4. More on the Yangtze The Yangtze irrigates more than 1/3 of China’s agricultural output and carries ¾ of China’s internal waterborne commerce. It serves as China’s north/south dividing line in fundamental matters such as culinary taste, language dialect, and religious perspective.
5. The Three Gorges There are three major gorges on the Yangtze:
Qutang: 5 miles, the 1st, and the smallest
Wu Xia: means Witches Gorge. This is the most dangerous: twelve 3,000’ high limestone peaks jut out. Many eddies and much wind.
Xiling: the final one. 47 miles long, the longest of the three. Many submerged boulders create havoc for ships.
6. The Three Gorges Dam This is the most ambitious project since the Great Wall.
It will displace 2,000,000 people, destroy some 1,400 rural villages, and flood hundreds of farms.
13 replacement cities will be built along the 370 miles of affected waterway.
It is scheduled to be complete in 2009.
7. More Three Gorges Dam The dam is 607’ high and will be 1.3 miles long
26 of the world’s largest turbines, each weighing 400 tons, and will generate 18,200 megawatts of electricity (equivalent to 18 nuclear power plants)
The cost, according to the Chinese government, is 17 billion, but many believe it will be closer to 75 billion
8. Intended Consequences To control flooding: Hundreds of thousands over the centuries have been killed by floods
To allow large ships to transport shipments of coal, silk, and agricultural products to markets on China’s east coast from China’s largest central city: Chongqing (massive locks will allow large ships to by-pass the dam).
As China moves toward full development, it faces crippling power shortages. The main argument for the dam is that the dam will solve this problem, and modernize central China, with massive electricity output.
¼ of China’s deaths are caused by pulmonary disease caused by air pollution. China gets ¾ of its electricity, currently, by burning its huge deposits of high sulfur coal. Clean, hydropower will solve this. Dam supporters, also, believe by removing the carbon dioxide emissions from the air it will aid in the global warming problem.
9. Unintended Consequences Nearly 200 miles of canyons lost. Arguably among China’s greatest loss: the sacrifice of the nation/ world’s greatest scenic wonders.
The loss of many animal habitats which include the endangered Chinese river dolphin.
Loss of nearly 8,000 archaeological sites including the site of the ancient Ba who many believed were the original settlers of the area over 4,000 years ago.
Sedimentation will make Chongqing’s harbor unusable because the dam will slow the fast flow of the Yangtze and the annual flow of ¼ trillion gallons of raw sewage, together with the effluents of the abandoned flooded cities,will kill aquatic species and turn the 370 mile reservoir into an open sewer the length of Lake Superior because of the arsenic, cyanide, and methylmercury (all industrial toxins)
10. More Unintended Consequences Cost: will far surpass the gov’t projection of 17 billion.
240,000 acres will go out of production in Fuling alone. Fuling is the pickle capital of China. Some farmers there have been on that land for 350 years (since the Ming Dynasty). Many graves of their families will be lost as the entire city is flooded.
China is a nation of peasant farmers and most would find it impossible to survive in an industrial world living by the clock for the first time in their life.
City of Wanxian will pay the biggest price: 2/3 of the city proper will be lost (8.5 sq. miles), 900 factories drowned, ¼ million will be uprooted and moved.
Many of China’s laobaixing (common people) believe the Chinese gov’t does not care about them. They are getting 5,000 yuan ($600 U.S.) for resettlement. The central gov’t gives to the provincial officials, they give it to the county, and the county gives it to the city bosses. Each official takes their cut and reduces the amount of money left.
11. And More U.C’s Some are concerned the dam will be damaged by rock slides and earthquakes dominate in the area.
12. The Laobaixing “China is a nation of peasant farmers. Always was and always will be”.
13. The Water Will Rise Projected level of water once the project is complete in 2009.
14. The Construction The Three Gorges Dam is the most ambitious project in China since the Great Wall
15. China’s Push Toward the Future The Chinese gov’t attempts to modernize a nation of peasant farmers at a cost of 75 billion.
16. The Real Question on the Three Gorges Dam What price can one put on such an achievement in human terms?