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Debate: Three Gorges Dam

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Revision as of 17:41, 23 April 2008

Is China's massive Three Gorges Dam a gain or a loss?

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

Image:Three Gorges Dam.jpg

See Wikipedia: Three Gorges Dam for background

Write Subquestion here...

Yes

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No

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Write Subquestion here...

Yes

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No

Click on the pencil icon and research and write arguments here




Energy needs: Is the TGD an important supplier of China's energy needs?

Yes

  • Three Gorges Dam supplies massive quantities of needed electricity The dam is set to produce 18,000 megawatts of electricity equivalent to 18 nuclear power plants or fifty million tons of coal. This amounts to 11% of China's electricity. This is a massive amount of electricity that is desperately needed by a population of over one billion that is rapidly emerging out of poverty and into modernity.


No

  • China needs greater energy efficiency not the TGD China is very inefficient in its energy use. If it were to increase efficiency, its energy demands would shrink substantially, or at least they wouldn't spiral upwards as fast as they are. The Three Gorges Dam, therefore, might not have been necessary if China had adopted a more efficient approach.
  • The TGD neglects rural population energy needs The Three Gorges Dam is primarily set to supply urban energy needs. Rural poor are largely neglected. This fits in to the broader difficulties the rural poor have been having in attracting the attention and consideration the Chinese Communist Party. So, while the Three Gorges Dam is supplying the energy needs of Chinese, it seems tailored to favor only a particular urban class.


Environment: Is the Three Gorges Dam benefiting the environment?

Yes

  • The TGD is a hydroelectric, renewable-energy project Hydroelectric is a renewable energy resource. This is highly important in a world where non-renewable energy resources are depleting rapidly.
  • China is taking steps to limit garbage glut behind TGD Reservoirs worldwide are being more or less beset by floats, as it intercepts floats from upstream while it holds water. The float pollution had existed before the TGD constructed. Preventing upstream garbage floats from piling up at the TGD has been implemented since the TGD began to store water and generate electricity.
  • Hydroelectric power from the TGD is much cleaner than coal. While there may be some environmental costs associated with the TGD, it is important to keep in mind that the only primary energy alternative to the TGD is coal energy. But coal is a major environmental hazard both on the local level, where it covers Chinese cities with lung-damaging pollution, and on the global level in the context of global warming (coal is one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters). Therefore, the TGD is the lesser of evils.

No

  • The hydroelectric TGD should not be considered renewable due to social, environmental costs. Many do not consider hydroelectric energy "renewable" as it depletes the surrounding environment and permanently displaces millions of people. These resources cannot be "renewed".
  • The TGD will kill water life in the Yangze river The creation of the dam and associated reservoir has impacts both upstream from the dam and downstream. It will change the temperature of the water, the velocity and direction of the river flow, the surrounding climate so that affects 300 species of fish and 47 rare or endangered species in this area.
  • Floating garbage is piling up behind the TGD When droughts occur in China, as occurred in 2006, garbage can pile up in the basin behind the damn. Then, when the basin begins to fill back up with water, this garbage is lifted to float on the surface where it is both visually unappealing and damaging to the environment. The damage is particularly acute for local wildlife that suffer from higher chemical levels in their habitat or that become ensnared in the garbage and die.
  • The TGD causes damaging landslides The reservoir created behind the Three Gorges Dam waterlogs the riverside and destabalizes steep hillsides. This can lead to devastating landslides with costs in human lives, geologically, environmentally, and economically. These problems will extend for 60 Kilometers, the length of the reservoir, with the potential to cause massive amounts of damage and suffering over time.
  • Three Gorges Dam damages water quality The reservoir of the Three Gorges Dam is, similar to other dams, fostering algae blooms and elevated levels of phosphate and nitrate pollutants that are damaging to water quality for both the wildlife and for human consumption. Because the reservoir is so massive, the effect on water quality is going to be on a scale never seen before, particularly as tributaries coming off of the 60 kilometer reservoir are experiencing the ill effects as well.


Economics: Is the Three Gorges Dam benefiting China's economy?

Yes

  • TGD will substantially benefit China's economic development Energy is critical to economic development, particularly in a country where heavy industry is the future. By supplying roughly 10% of China's electricity, this dam adds to economic production like no other single dam has in history. This will be critical to China's economic development moving forward.
  • Three Gorges Dam improves navigability of upstream waterways It does so by increasing the depth of the river. Increased navigability is incredibly important for commerce, as much larger ships will be able to ship goods much more easily in the region, and from the inland to the coast. This will open up markets and stimulate economic activity.
  • Three Gorges Dam benefits tourism in China The Three Gorges Dam is one of the greatest engineering feats in the history of the world. It is sure to draw a significant number of tourists, with many subsequent economic benefits.


No

  • The TGD does not economically benefit the displaced While there certainly are economic benefits from the Three Gorges Dam, the economic shock that the dam has caused to over a million displaced individuals and potentially millions more must also be taken into account. Does the slight economic gain for the average Chinese person outweigh the severity of the shock to the couple of millions that were displaced and whose livelihoods were destroyed?


Social: Are the social and human impacts of the dam positive?

Yes

  • The TGD helps limit the risk of floods in the region. This would prevent the disasters that have plagued the people of central China for years, including the '30-year flood’ in the summer of 1931 [which] inundated 8.5 million acres of farmland and cost 150,000 lives. Millions were made homeless.[1]
  • Three Gorges Dam gives China added respect in the world. As the greatest dam on earth, the Three Gorges Dam will bring added respect to China in the world and in its foreign policy.
  • The Chinese people are very proud and supportive of the Three Gorges Dam. The vast majority of Chinese support the Three Gorges Dam, desire the electricity it will produce, and take pride in this historic engineering feat. This is good for China, its people, and its future.
  • The TGD helps to alleviate drought.The Yangtze, which is 6,300 km long, usually experiences a dry season between November and April. This is often followed by spring flooding.Cargo ships are often stranded in the sections around Yichang, Wuhan and Jingzhou of Hubei Province, and Jiujiang, Hukou of the neighboring Jiangxi Province and block the route. The TGD can abate the effect of drought by controlling the water discharge to maintain normal shipping along the China's longest river,.

No

  • The TGD has displaced too many Chinese The Dam initially displaced round 1.5 million people and may displace millions more with new plans to raise the levels of the reservoir. That is a massive number of displacements that cannot be taken lightly even in a country with a population over one billion.
  • Closing TGD due to future problems is unlikely given its size Investments in TGD and the costs of its construction were so large that it is unlikely to be closed in the future, even if it becomes clear that the environmental and social costs were higher than expected. A return on investment must be achieved in such a project, and this creates a the potential for a high level of rigidity against social and environmental concerns.
  • Argument: The Three Gorges Dam has destroyed Chinese cultural artifacts According to Chinese recent archaeological discoveries, the Three Gorges are viewed as the cradle of ancient Chinese culture.There are a total 1208 archaeological sites(441 above ground and 767 underground)covering nearly 2 million years of history in the inundated areas of 632 square kilometres along the YangtseRiver extending nearly 700 kilometres from Chongqing to Sandouping.
  • The Three Gorges Dam was dangerously constructed on a fault line The Three Gorges Dam exists on a major fault line. A major earthquake in the area could cause the dam to collapse, leading to thousands of casualties, costing billions of dollars, and proving counter-productive to its objective. In addition, the massive reservoir building up behind the Three Gorges Dam increase pressure on the earth and may elevate the risk of an earthquake in the area.
  • The Three Gorges Dam is a cause of corruptionThe people building the dam don't care if it works or not. FOLLOW THE MONEY. You need a big project to get big kickbacks. The costs have skyrocketed - mostly due to bribes and corruption. 50 years from now it may silt up and overflow for that reason.

Pro/con resources

Yes


No


References

See also

External links

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