Academic Geography

Was the Three Gorges Dam Worth It?

The three gorges dam, the biggest dam in the world that sits on the Yangtze river, is able to power 10% of China’s households. It Although it decreased the carbon emission massively and powered a huge amount of population, I still believe that it was not worth it as its disadvantages definitely outweighs the profit it brings.

I think the idea of building a dam on the Yangtze river in 1990s was a bad idea from the beginning, the technology and knowledge were not advanced enough to build something as big as the Three Gorges Dam. I believe we should not temper with the environment, the environment has been in its way for millions of years and human interference to attempt to change it is just against the rules of nature. Controlled river flows are not rivers anymore, yet they flow in the path of rivers and are expected to function like a natural river. There are so many uncertainties that places many aspects of this issue in risks. In addition, there weren’t enough research being conducted and no much could’ve been done after the dam was built. The environmental and social issues it raised massively impacted different communities of all parts along the Yangtze river. It has caused millions of people to be displaced, frequent landslide and disturbed the ecosystem; causing preventable deaths and was the key factor that lead to the extinction of the Yangtze dolphins. It has also directly caused the overly dense population in Chongqing and even affected the ecosystems in the East China Sea. The various problems it has caused might’ve been avoidable if adequate investigation was carried out at first and better designs were put in place. However, all we can do now is only to attempt to solve the problems without raising another by changing the major setting of the dam.

The dam surely brings massive benefits to the economy of China and its people. However, the cost environmentally, socially and economically are huge as well. In addition, the value of the benefits is decreasing to the increase of energy demand (capability to power 1/3 of household in 2007 to 10% now), but the negative impact of it is continuous, if not it may even be getting worse as time goes by. In general, after considering the advantages and disadvantages of the dam, I believe the Three Gorges Dam’s harm outweighs the values it brings, and it will continue to become less efficient as time goes by.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 comment

  1. I like how you pin the real problem on the lack of proper investigation before construction. Although I disagree with your claim that they didn’t have the technology to build a dam of this scale (they did – the proof is there on the Yangtze!) your point about lack of investigation before construction is well made. The word for this is an environmental impact assessment (EIA). In many parts of the world these must be done before big projects can be undertaken. Why do you think China did not do a proper EIA? What does this tell you about decision-making around this project? What lessons can be learned from this? You claim that we should not tamper with nature. Can you think of any counter arguments to your own statement? Times when we tamper and it is a good thing that we did?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>