How is the Three Gorges Dam impacting the environment?
The Yangtze River in China is piling up behind the massive Three Gorges Dam. Now satellite photos show us exactly how the rising waters are changing the ecosystem.
Mon, Jun 08 2009 at 9:09 PM
Shea's note: I'm moving to the big city of Portland, Maine, this week and taking a few days off from writing to pack and move. Some of my green blogger pals are helping me out by writing a few guest posts. Today's post comes courtesy of Michael d'Estries. Scroll down to the bottom for links to his work.
China's Three Gorges Dam -- the largest hydroelectric power station in the world -- may be a classic example of harvesting a clean natural resource to generate power, but the benefits of pursuing this option as opposed to dirtier sources still aren't clear. Even Chinese officials have publicly admitted that the project has "hidden dangers" that could invariably lead to an environmental catastrophe. Said one specialist to Scientific American in 2008
, "When it comes to environmental change, the implementation of the Three Gorges dam and reservoir is the great granddaddy of all changes."
Until now, environmental changes to the massive (and fragile) ecosystem surrounding Three Gorges have been difficult to see. A new snapshot, however, taken by astronauts above the International Space Station on April 15, clearly shows the flooding of the valley behind the dam. Over 600 kilometers (372 mi) of the Yangtze river will be impacted by rising waters to form a new reservoir.
For reference, check out these photos of the region before and after the installation of the Three Gorges project.
Via Earth Observatory
Author bio: Michael is a multi-cellular hominid with a love of sustainable culture and technology. He is the founder of a number of quasi-popular sites like Ecorazzi, GroovyGreen, Ecorattle and VEGdaily. You can stalk him (or hit him up for some loose change) on Twitter @michaeldestries.
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