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Peter Hessler writes about his experience in Sichuan during the time the three gorges dam was being built [1]. Many people have had to sacrifice a lot for these dams. However, IIRC many receive some form of compensation from the government (adequate or not).


The dam you and he mentioned is Three Gorges Dam built from 1994 to 2003.

And the dam in this article, which may related with the extinction of the Chinese paddlefish, is Gezhouba Dam. It was built from 1970 to 1988.

Yes these are separate dams. However, they both have similar effects - flooding of large areas, relocation of people, extinction of species / loss of historical artifacts.

But there is also significant benefits to these dams. Three gorges dam generates 95 TWh annually. My quick google search shows Finland consumes 82 TWH annually. This amount of energy is generated with no emission of co2. China has no oil and gas, hence if its not for these dams, most of this energy will be generated with coal. How much co2, so2, other particular matter will that generate? How much damage will that have on people's health? How many people will get health problems from that? I was in China in the 90s, I remember how scarce electricity was back then. ACs, heating, home appliances, industrial development, hospitals all require electricity. Without this power, people's lives and economy will not develop. How many people will die of poverty (poverty induces health problems from starvation and malnutrition, poverty causes crime, family and social issues). These dams are also crucial for irrigation. The mass famine in the 60s, one of the core issues is lack of agricultural development and irrigation is crucial for that. Another crucial aspect is flood control. These days significant lives and economic disruptions are avoided because of the extensive set of dams to control flood water. The Yangtze River flood of 1998 resulted total loss of 4150 people, and 180 million people were affected. Around 100,000 square kilometres (25,000,000 acres) were evacuated, and 13.3 million houses were damaged or destroyed. A similar size flood season occurred in 2020 and 2016, the damage resulted was much smaller. You cannot simply ignore all these benefits.

The Gezhouba Dam was constructed in 1988s, back then people's understanding of ecology and conservation was poor. And people were starving, economy was so poor that its hard to imagine what it was like back then. I think its not too crazy to think that people would prioritize certain things over others. Today, ecology considerations are very much part of the construction process.

As the article also suggested, overfishing is another huge contributor to ecosystem loss. In 60s, the Chinese paddlefish was being fished and sold like cabbages. By the 80s, fisherman would catch very little of the fish. The poor yield pushed some fisherman to use extreme tactics, like electric fishing and explosives, and that causes even more damages to the fish population. Last year, the yangtz protection law was passed. There is a host of actions there but one of it is complete ban of fishing on the yangtz for 10 years. And there are over 280,000 fisherman on the yangtz. There are also lots of government effort to support their livelihoods and transition them to other jobs.http://www.npc.gov.cn/englishnpc/c23934/202103/8cccd3c25caf4...

What compensation do the paddlefish get ;-)

Sturgeon itself does not need to get any compensation, it is not human, no human rights.

The construction of the dam can bring a lot of immediate benefits, which is insignificant compared with the ecological damage caused, because if the economic development is not good, the environmental pollution will only be more serious, and the phenomenon of survival through predation of wild animals will only be more common.

Extinction :(

They'd like a refund.

There is no amount of money that can compensate the archeological loss from the intentional flooding of these areas.

Multiple cradle of civilization level sites were flooded with not enough funding or effort given to excavating these sites thoroughly before flooding.

For those wanting to get an idea of what that means, there is an episode of that institute of of science documentaries, BBC Horizon, that covers the flooding of Zeugma.


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