Three Gorges Dam Essay

1586 words - 7 pages

Principles of Ecology

Module 1 Homework Assignment for BIO 330: Principles of Ecology
Scott Conklin
Allied American University

This paper was prepared for BIO 330: Principles of Ecology, Module 1 Homework Assignment taught by Shannon Unger.
PART 1: ECOLOGICAL CONTROVERSY
After reading through the website dedicated to the Three Gorges Dam, reading through a few additional websites and articles, and watching a few videos, I have made a personal determination that I am not on one side of the debate or the other. Unfortunately for me, I can see both sides of the debate and can understand why the dam is good, and why it was thought to be a negative and ...view middle of the document...

Previous to the construction, annual destruction from flooding affected nearly 2.3 million residents and had a death toll of 1,526 in 1998. Since its completion, inflows at the Three Gorges Dam have reached a peaks greater than the 1998 Yangtze River Floods. The dam has reduced the outflow in discharges downstream, effectively alleviating major flooding on the middle and lower rivers.
Another good impact the dam has had is on the shipping and navigation lanes for boats. The installation of ship locks, ways to lift boats from one water level to another, has increased river shipping dramatically since there inception. Current transportation costs have been lowered by an estimated 30% so far. The dam and the locks have provided a much safer option, as previously ships with much deeper drafts were unable to effectively navigate upstream due to treacherous water conditions.
On the flipside of the argument there are three main negatives that can be taken away from the dam’s construction. Water pollution, decreases in endangered species and wildlife populations, and the overall cultural impact the dam has caused. None of these issues were overlooked or put aside, as the debates behind the Three Gorges Dam goes back to 1919 when the idea was first presented by Sun Yat-sen. Each of the issues have been scrutinized and planned around as much as possible to help lower any negative impacts the dam could cause.
So far, water pollution has been a primary source of negative impact since the complete of the dam. Enough so that the Chinese government has full time staff to troll the waters and skim waste from the river as it passes. Now let me state that the river has had a steady increase in water pollution over the last 50 years due to discharge of sewage and industrial waste, well prior to the completion of the dam. The Three Gorges Dam exacerbates water pollution by slowing down water ways, trapping sediment and increasing eutrophication, which can cause a depletion of oxygen in the water. This deoxygenation of the water has also led to the death of many aquatic wildlife.
The most notable loss in the Yangtze River Basin was that of the Baiji dolphin, whose numbers had been dwindling prior to the dam, but disappeared completely once it was completed. Prior to the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, 162 fish species were recorded in the area, now over 20 have disappeared to the area and another 6 found only in the Yangtze River are now extinct. With loss of fish, this affects migratory birds and mammals that come to the area to find food. This holds true for the plants in the area as well. As the flooded basin has wiped out over 150,000 acres of land, much of the silt deposits that would normally wash down stream are being slowed and trapped in areas prior and close to the dam.
The cultural impacts from the dams creation were probably the most fought aspects of the majority of the population effected in the area. The effects happened...

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