10 Pros and Cons of Three Gorges Dam
Nestled near the Yiling District in China, spanning across the Yangtze River, is the Three Gorges Dam. This monumental dam serves two main purposes: to help prevent traumatic flooding of the river and produce massive amounts of hydro power as the worlds largest hydroelectricity facility. Just the site of the dam is absolutely awe inspiring, it is truly massive, and there is water constantly flowing powerfully through it. The construction on the dam began in late 1994 and didn’t complete until July 4, 2012, when it began to fully operate. While it serves many useful purposes for China and the world, there have been some devastating consequences to it’s construction.
The Pros of Three Gorges Dam
1. Clean Power Source
Hydro power is gathered through harnessing the energy of running water. This is exactly what the dam does, and it does it well. The Three Gorges Dam produces as much energy as 18 nuclear power plants, and the best part? It’s all clean and renewable energy that isn’t destroying our environment in the process.
2. Lower Manufacturing Costs
China is the world’s factory. The construction of this dam and the power that it has created has cut power costs in much of China. This is especially true for manufacturing areas that consume large amounts of power, which would normally be very high cost. This lowered power cost translates to lower manufacturing costs, which means lower product costs for the world.
3. Tourist Attraction
The astonishing site of the Three Gorges Dam has been attracting visitors from all over the world since it’s construction began. In turn, this new tourism market has helped to boost and grow the economy in the region greatly.
4. Prevents Disaster
The Yangtze river has been known to flood, and when it does, disaster follows. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives due to the flooding of this river, and millions have lost homes. Three Gorges Dam was originally meant to prevent this flooding from happening, and it has.
5. River Navigation
Since the dam is placed right in the middle of the Yangtze river, it helps ships and other vessels to navigates the river, especially during dry seasons. It ensures that the entire river receives an adequate supply of water and remains travel-able at all times.
The Cons of Three Gorges Dam
1. Devastated Wildlife
The river dolphin has become extinct as a direct result of the Three Gorges Dam’s construction. Many fish and plant life that have inhabited the Yangtze river for thousands of years are beginning to dwindle down in numbers. This is due to multiple different factors. One being that the water that is expelled from the dam is colder than the rest of the river, cooling the rest of the water and killing off many species of fish. It also prevents the migration of fish who are trying to get downstream. Many of these animals also get caught into the turbines of the dam. This is one of the biggest observed issues with the Three Gorges Dam.
2. Relocation And Inadequate Compensation
Over one million people that lived near the dam’s construction site where forced to relocate. This uprooted lives and caused many people to be displaced with no where to go and no means to get there. The Chinese government provided these people with very little compensation for the land.
3. Earthquake and Landslide Trigger
The massive structure that is the Three Gorges Dam, weighs a mind boggling 144.5 trillion pounds. And that is just the concrete. All of the generators that are within the dam weigh an additional 6,000 tons a piece, not to mention the billions of tons of water that are flowing through it at any given second. This substantial weight has been causing landslides and tremors that have killed people and destroyed homes.
4. Destruction Of Historical Sites
Hundreds of natural land formations, historical architecture, and ancient cities are completely underwater now, as a result of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. While measures have been taken to help preserve these artifacts, they have been in vain.
5. Environmental Impacts
Tons of rocks and sand are being pulled in to the Yangzte river, causing drastic changes in it’s natural makeup. This pollution is affected the water quality for the animals and surrounding villages that rely on this water supply.