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Three Gorges Dam. David Homsher & George Lyons. Yangtze River. Over 3,900 miles long (6,300 km). Third longest in the world. The land area of Yangtze river valley is 19% of the total land in China.

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three gorges dam

Three Gorges Dam

David Homsher & George Lyons

yangtze river
Yangtze River
  • Over 3,900 miles long (6,300 km). Third longest in the world.
  • The land area of Yangtze river valley is 19% of the total land in China.
  • The total population of Yangtze River valley is 358 million, nearly 35% of the national population (1983).
three gorges dam project
Three Gorges Dam Project
  • Located on the Sandouping, Yichang and Hubei provinces.
  • Height: 590 feet (181 m).
  • Expected investment: 203.9 billion renminbi (US$24.65 billion).
more facts
More Facts
  • Number of migrants: 1.13 million.
  • Installed power generation capacity: 18.2 million kilowatts.
  • Produce 84 billion kilowatt-hours annually.
  • Functions: Flood control, power generation, improved navigation.
recent history
Recent History
  • March 1989 construction is suspended
  • After Tiananmen Square
    • Public debate over dam forbidden by government
    • Foreign critics accused of ignorance
    • Famous critics imprisoned
  • Resettlement and physical preparations begin in 1994
    • Government solicits technology, services, hardware and financing from abroad
construction timetable
Construction Timetable
  • November 1997 Yangtze River was diverted.
  • The first batch of generators will begin to generate power in 2003.
  • The entire project is to be completed by 2009 when all 26 generators will be able to generate power.
benefits of dam
Benefits of Dam
  • Energy:
    • Its 26 700-megawatt turbine generators have a productions capacity equal to the energy produced by 18 nuclear plants or the burning of 40 million tons of coal.
    • Will provide energy to 60 million residents currently without power.
  • Economic Growth and Development:
    • Provide power for economic growth.
    • Allows improved shipping on the Yangtze.
benefits of dam10
Benefits of Dam
  • Flood Control:
    • Lessen the frequency of large floods from once in 10 years to once in 100 years.
  • Environmental:
    • Hydroelectric is cleaner than coal burning and nuclear waste.
    • Ozone protected from greenhouse gas emissions.
problems with dam
Problems With Dam
  • Energy:
    • Combined cycle plants are predicted to make hydroelectric dams obsolete. They promise comparable energy production without many of the problems associated with dams.
  • Economic Impact:
    • Relocated residents could become unemployed.
    • Possible the project does not have enough funding to be completed.
problems with dam12
Problems With Dam
  • Flooding:
    • Critics claim The Yangtze will add 530 million tons of silt into the reservoir on average per year and it will soon be useless in preventing floods.
    • Dam will not prevent floods on downstream tributaries.
  • Environmental Problems.
    • 14,500 hectares of agricultural land will be lost.
    • The dam will act as a barrier causing the flow of sediments to slow and downstream fisheries and agriculture will be deprived of much need nutrients.
    • The reservoir would also submerge numerous factories that would otherwise continue to take part in China’s economic growth.
ethical issues
Ethical Issues
  • Relocation of residents
  • Environmental concerns
  • Local culture
  • Political corruption
relocation of residents
Relocation of Residents
  • The dam will require a 375 mile long reservoir which forces people currently living in the area to move out.
  • Chinese government estimates 1.2 million people will have to move, but experts predict the real number to be between 1.6 and 1.9 million people.
what happens
What Happens?
  • Some of the people are given financial compensation and moving expenses.
  • Others are given either new farm land or new factory jobs.
  • Much of the new farm land is barely usable and is located on steep inclines requiring excess precipitation.
  • Critique of the resettlement plans is prohibited in the media.
environmental concerns
Environmental Concerns
  • The coastline will be eroded.
  • The altered ecosystem will further endanger many species.
  • The river, no longer free flowing, will become very polluted once the toxins and pollutants are slowly released from the cities.
local culture
Local Culture
  • Will destroy 1300 archeological sites.
  • Will flood many historical sites.
  • Reduce tourism.
political corruption
Political Corruption
  • Widely believed that contractors won bids through bribery.
  • Many of the materials used in construction are below standards to lower overall costs.
  • Head of the Three Gorges Dam Economic Corp. sold jobs in the company, took out loans for the project and disappeared with the money in May 2000.
  • Resettlement officials were caught embezzling funds from the Resettlement Program in January 2000.


defense to ethical issues
Defense to Ethical Issues
  • Relocation of residents.
    • 15 million people downstream will be better off due to electricity and flood control.
    • Compensation is being offered to those relocated.
  • Environmental concerns.
    • Hydroelectric power is cleaner than coal burning and safer than nuclear power.
defense to ethical issues20
Defense to Ethical Issues
  • Local culture
    • Many historical sites are being moved to higher ground.
  • Political corruption


application of moral theories
Application of Moral Theories
  • Utilitarianism
  • Kant
  • Cultural Relativism
  • Relocation of residents
    • Happiness of 15 million people downstream outweighs possible unhappiness of about 1.2 million upstream.
  • Environmental concerns
    • It depends.
      • Water pollution vs. electricity.
    • Fish and other animals could decrease in population.
  • Local culture
    • Happiness would decrease because the Chinese government will not be able to save all of the historical and archeological sites.
  • Political corruption
    • Happiness decreases because they are losing funds.
  • Relocation of residents
    • Human rights of relocated people violated.
    • Are not treated as autonomous beings.
  • Environmental concerns
    • Personal rights could be violated by increased water pollution.
  • Political corruption
    • Apply categorical imperative – would not want everyone to be corrupt.
cultural relativism
Cultural Relativism
  • Relocation of residents
    • Since the Chinese government is different than ours, it may be okay to move people without their consent.
  • Political corruption
    • Bribery and selling jobs may be the way the government operates, however embezzlement has a negative effect on the culture.
should project be completed
Should Project Be Completed?
  • Utilitarianism
    • Yes, overall happiness of people with flood control and electricity will outweigh the unhappiness of those affected negatively.
  • Kant
    • No, because people’s rights are violated without adequate compensation.
  • Cultural Relativism
    • Yes, would improve economy and prestige for China.
the end
The End

Thanks for listening.

Any Questions?