Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chinese Hydropower and the Olympics

Mad Minerva points to an article by Jim Yardley on the human costs of Chinese dam projects. Since IHT links tend to disappear into the net nirvana, I'll give you the NYT link: Chinese Dam Projects Criticized for Their Human Costs. By Jim Yardly, New York Times.

Dai Qing, a well-know critic of the Three-Gorges-Dam project, also takes on this issue - and links it to the 2008 Olympics: Thirsty Dragon at the Olympics. By Dai Qing, The New York Review of Books. A quote:

[D]uring the Olympic Games, Beijing will enjoy an unprecedented supply of water. Special pipes will bring unpolluted water from the provinces to provide for the whole city, allowing people to enjoy potable water from their taps for the first time—but only for as long as the games last. Meanwhile, when the crowds watch and applaud the Olympic performances at the aquatic events, neither they nor the athletes will be aware that they are not really competing on the waters of Beijing's original Chaobai River. The "river" they will be using is an artificial creation made by damming the two ends of a long-dry riverbed and filling it with water pumped from deep underground.

After the Olympics, what then? The quest of Mao Zedong and his fellow Communist leaders to conquer nature led to the widespread razing of forests, the destruction of grasslands, the conversion of wetlands to farms, and the incessant damming of rivers. The heedless and unaccountable use of natural resources in more recent decades has led poor Beijing to the desperate state it is in today.

It's interesting to see how Qing stresses the line of continuity between Mao and his successors as it comes to the destruction of the environment.

No comments: