Death in the Yangtze - Quiz
The appearance of a healthy river system is inviting, pleasurable and speaks volumes about the environment and the animals that live in it as well as on and around it's shores. That is the case with the Cotter River in the Australian Capital Terriroty, Australia. This river feeds a host of animals including kangaroos, wombats, birds, fish of different types, and all the snakes, insects and other creatures dependent on it.
Their water must be fresh and unpolluted just as the population of Canberra, which takes it's drinking water from this and other rivers in the area, expect. But what if it were suddenly turned into a sewerage drain for effluence from humans and a rubbish tip for manufacturing and industrial and domestic waste and shipping. That is what has happened to the Yantze River in China and a recent television documentary covered the problems it now faces in it's stuggle to survive, It's a struggle it is bound to lose unless a miracle happens.
The Not so Mighty Yantze
It's China's longest river and it meanders through huge gorges that rise steeply to create the pictureque landscaoes of so many wonderful artists who visited to capture it's giory. It flows for 6,418 kilometres (3,988 mi) from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai long and it drains uinto the China Sea at Shanghai.
It's size is only part of the history of this river as it drains over one fifth of China and one third of China's population live in the valleys through which it runs. The Yangtze is fed by numerous creeks and smaller river systems that add to it's flow. In it's wisdom the Chinese Government commissioned a huge barrier, the Three Gorges Dam, to be built across the river and to feature a major source of Hydro Electric Power and it has become the largest power plant of this type in the world. If the Chinese government were out to set some records then they certainly achieved their goal with this construction. Now it is that which is slowly killing the river and everything in it,
How Well do You Know China?
Have you heard of the Three Gorges Dam
Views of the Yangtze Valley
Lost Species on the Yangtze River
Since the dam was started the animals dependent on it have suffered. The first extinction of some note was declared in 2008, when the Baiji, or Chinese river dolphin was unable to be found. Since then there are hundreds of species of plants, birds, animals, insects and other wild-life facing a rocky future and possible extinction.
This image is open source
Damage to River System
Since the dam started filling up it has placed enormous pressure on the land as water seeps into the cracks in the earth and loosens rocks that then slip over each other to cause land slips and worse.
In a documentary recently seen on Sydney television the sediment that the river normally washes through and out to sea has been partially stopped by the Three Gorges Dam. This is having an effect on the sediment island in the basin at Shanghai. Normally sediment is deposited there and has been responsible for many species of animals, such as crabs, migratory birds and so forth, living on it. Without the sediment the island is being eroded and may soon disappear,
Because of the dam Shanghai is now probably the busiest sea port in the world and shipping plying the waterways is not helping either the wildlife or the river to survive, The city is growing massively and expansion is taking place over new areas that were once wildlife domains,
According to the evidence in the documentary unless a miracle happens the Yangtze will be dead within five years. Such is the impact of modern trade on and around it.
Population Explosion on River
The Three Gorges Dam has a massive hydro electric plant generating enough power to declare it the second biggest generator in the world. Itaipu Dam is the largest, But three Gorges Power station has the greatest installed capacity (20,300 MW), according to Wikipedia who has also supplied the images. According to this source "the dam flooded archaeological and cultural sites and displaced some 1.3 million people, and is causing significant ecological changes, including an increased risk of landslides"
Wikipedia also noted that the dam "will have 32 generators: 30 main generators, each with a capacity of 700 MW, and two plant power generators, each with capacity of 50 MW, making a total capacity of 22,500 MW. Among those 32 generators, 14 are installed in the north side of the dam, 12 in the south side, and the remaining six in the underground power plant in the mountain south of the dam. The expected annual electricity generation will be over 100 TWh"
The effect on the industries that have moved into the region because of the power means that heavy metals are now flowing into the river without checks. Because of the number of people living in and around the river raw effluent is also pouring into the river unchecked. There are also numerous piles of waste from human activities polluting it, including plastic bags and drink containers, polythene chunks from styrene boxes, and so on, There is no attempt to clean anything up and this waste is having a devastating effect on fish and other river creatures.
Fish populations have declined enormously and the smell is rather potent along parts of the shoreline. According to Google Earth "Large parts of China's longest river, the Yangtze, have been irreversibly polluted, state media quotes a report as saying.
Around one-tenth of the 6,200km-long river is in a "critical condition" and nearly 30% of major tributaries are seriously polluted, the report found. Even a huge reservoir created by the Three Gorges Dam has become heavily polluted.China's environment has suffered as a result of the country's economic boom."
While the dam may have done some good the overall effect is to be weighed against the damage being done to the environment, wildlife, the beautiful landscape now buried by the water and the many earthquakes, landslips and overpopulation it has yet to bring about. With all that said there are plans for more dams on this river,
It Is a Beautiful City
There is no doubt that Shanghai is a beautiful city. Just watch the video below. But what will happen when the river dies? Will the Chinese be able to save it from the horror of the pollution and other things now threatening its life?
If you are intending to visit then do it soon and the following agents can help you. They are reliable and trustworthy as they have been tested over time and have been in business for many years.
What do you think?
Would you like to visit China and sail on the Yangtze?
Still images from Dreamstime - click here