Monday, November 16, 2009

Engineering Disasters

Discovery Channel has a show called “Engineering Disasters”. The show showcased man-made structures which either collapsed or did more harm than good.

Coming soon to that show is China's massive Three Gorges dam! Even before construction started, there had been warnings about environmental impact of the massive project as well as how the dam would destroy the legendary Three Gorges and displaced more than 1 million people. The Chinese government ignored all warnings and now the problems are coming hard and fast.

The environmental impact of the dam had caused landslides as the raised water level had eroded the soil near the dam, and prompted a “postponement” on plans to raise the water level to full capacity.

I had never been a fan of the Three Gorges project. I always believed it to be a vanity project as I never bought the stated aims of the Chinese. The 2 aims of the dam were to end centuries of floods along the basin of the Yangtze River and to provide energy to fuel the country's economic boom. The Chinese people had been lining along the Yangtze for thousands of years and China did not need the amount of power a $23 billion, 660-km long dam would provide.

Now you have geological risks like landslides, serious soil erosion and seismic instability; and a changing eco-system which result in less water coming from the upper reaches of the Yangtze and drought in the lower reaches of the Yangtze. Producers of “Engineering Disasters”, please take note.

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