damming tiger leaping gorge

Not content with trashing 600 kilometers of the Three Gorges and making a formerly spectacular terrain resemble little more than a septic tank, the world’s largest and most stupid bureaucratic oligarchy think heading upstream a bit more for a repeat performance on Tiger Leaping Gorge is a masterful stroke of governance. Dickheads.

Not that this is particularly new news, after all, China has plans to dam the crap out of every spit-trail in the country and dig enough trenches to make sure most of the water never leaves the country, and bugger every country south of the border that depends on the rivers also. But before the get their hands on Tiger Leaping Gorge, there’s the Nu River to wreck. Chinese environmentalists pretty much failed with Three Gorges, and it’s not looking good for the rest of China either

In the land where 85,000 dams have bloomed, the builders of the mammoth Three Gorges reservoir in China are poised to begin another project. The giant hydropower company plans to dam China’s famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, where the sheer cliffs of snow-crested peaks flank the thundering Jinsha River to form one of the deepest and most majestic canyons on Earth.

When rumors of the project spread last summer, a group of urban Chinese environmentalists set out for the mountains of northwestern Yunnan province, north of Burma. There they found that geologists had already drilled test bores along the Jinsha River—even though the project lacks final approval from the central government. Returning to Beijing, the fact-finders convened nine prominent environmental groups to begin campaigning against the project

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shit place for a swim

The Three Gorges dam is nothing much more than a giant toilet, slowing to a grinding halt the flow of the river which by virtue of its speed managed to at least partially carry away the endless amount of shit dumped into it by people too lazy or greedy to care. Not any more. With the rising of the waters, the shit is backing up like an unruly septic tank and the amazing lack of foresight or care for the environment has come back to squat like a stinking turd on the doorstep of every town and city up-river of the dam.

Chongqing’s environmental protection bureaus predict that sewage discharge, currently 1 billion tons, will reach 2.3 billion by 2010, and that the volume of trash will increase from 1.3 to 2.6 million tons in the same period.

However, the way of dealing with it all remains relatively primitive: using fishing boats to gather the rubbish up with sticks and hooks.

“If we don’t use more effective means, 40 billion square meters of water in the area will be severely polluted and the lower reaches will be affected,” said Wu Dengming, an expert on environmental protection and president of Chongqing Green Volunteers Association.

Liu Gujun, 39, is the head of Chongqing’s Wanzhou District river trash relief team. Since last year, his team has been in charge of clearing floating litter in 27 branches and 23 bays of the Yangtze.

In just one year, his 17-boat fleet has been reduced to 4 vessels. Most of them are refitted old fishing boats with an open hold on the foredeck to load the trash.


Weeds also increasingly darken the surface, a dangerous sign that oxygen in the water is diminishing and there is more growing room for floating plants.

Liu also said the variety and quality of fish in the river mouth have diminished greatly, the remaining ones being inedible. Dead fish began to appear in the river two months ago.

Although the pollution across the area is worsening, the only people fighting against it face disbanding for lack of money.

Initially they were funded by the local relocation bureau and were able to deal with 15,000 tons of trash, once collecting over 60 tons in one day. But several months ago the funding was handed over to the district department of environmental protection and they have since run short of money.

There goes the neighbourhood

At the place where 金沙江 Jinsha Jiang bashes headlong into a mountain and does an abrupt 90 degree change of direction, squeezed to no more than 60 meters wide is 虎跳峡 Hutiao Xia, Tiger Leaping Gorge. The precipices on one side rise to 玉龙雪山 YuLong Xueshan Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, it’s glaciers crowned with the sharp ridgeline that gives its name. When you go to 丽江 Lijiang in 云南 Yunnan Province, thins is what you will see. For the next couple of years anyway.

Like the ice-shelfs in Antarctica, Patagonia, and on every mountain in the world, Yulong Xueshan is in trouble. The glaciers have been shrinking since the early-80s, and Wu Guangjian of the Beijing-based Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is certain its rapid demise is due to global warming.

He said the temperature change in the Lijiang area in the past 20 years is roughly the same as that in the northern hemisphere on average, which has been 0.4 C and 1 C higher than that of 1960s, respectively.

There are 8,600-odd glaciers of various scales in the country’s temperate zones, of which the one on the Yulong Snow Mountain is of the smallest scale and the lowest latitude, and therefore, should be the most sensitive to temperature changes.

The continent-wide collapse is expected to result in two-thirds of glaciers vanishing in the next 50 years, having an incalculable impact on the environment, and causing havok for 300 million people, particularly oasis communities in western China whose population amounts to 23% of the country.

In a idiotically brainless move, the director of CAS is promoting the building of dams as the perfect solution. His contention is that dams create more moisture in the air, which in turn promotes snowfall. Another solution involving honoring the Kyoto accord and dealing with a nation getting high on coal is like democracy, something they are not ready for.

In the meantime, grab your crampons and iceaxe and get climbing while there’s still something left.