Facts And The Construction Of The Three Gorges Dam, China

12 May 2016

How does the Three Gorges Dam affect the world? You may not realise but the Three Gorges Dam not only has affects in China but also for the entire world. It can literally slow the rotation of earth! The Three Gorges Dam is part of the Yangtze River, China. It took 17 years to build, costing a total of $37 billion USD and is known for been the worlds largest hydroelectric dam.  It measures 595 feet tall, 131 feet wide, and is more than 7,600 feet long, with 32 main turbines producing electricity. It generates 11 times as much power as the Hoover Dam. The Three Gorges creates  huge amounts of renewable energy every year and has cut down CO2 emissions drastically. In order to construct the famous dam, 13 cities, 140 towns and more than 1,600 villages have all been submerged under the worlds largest reservoir, meaning 1.3 million people were forced to relocate due to this. 

What you may not realise is that the Three Gorges doesn't just have an impact on China but also the world. By shifting a significant mass of water, the dam will literally slow the rotation of the earth. This is due to the vast amount of water that was moved to create the dam, and the place in which it has been relocated to. The reservoir holds a grand total of just over 9.4 cubic miles of water which is spread over 650 miles. The total weight of the water in the dam is 85 trillion pounds. A mass that size will create something known as a moment of inertia , because the water in the reservoir will be raised to 575 feet above sea level – this means that on average our days will lengthen by around 0.66 of a microsecond! The Three Gorges Dam is built completely our of steel and concrete. To be precise 510,000 tons of steel was used which is enough to build the Eiffel Tower 60 more times! Many people will have heard that the Great Wall of China is supposedly visible from the moon, the Three Gorges Dam is also supposed to be visible from there too! In 2006, the dam was completed. However since that time there has been many disadvantages such as:

  • more reports than ever of more landslides occurring
  • the water quality deteriorating due to the pollution in the air which has impacted on the levels of algae forming
  • the surrounding environment worsening

The dam was built to control flooding. However, since completed the Yangtze has flooded more often than before. In 2010 the river Yangtze flooded the worst it ever has done before which caused huge devastation amongst China. 500 people were killed and an entire village was wiped out completely. The purpose of the dam was to help eliminate drought but the Three Gorges has actually caused more problems with the water. At this current moment in time, China has a population of 1.3 billion people which is the worlds largest. Hundreds of millions of Chinese people have no, or limited, access to clean drinking water. This is extremely worrying towards China. Northern China has half of Chinas full population and only 15% of the freshwater! 70% of China's freshwater is in fact polluted!  

South to North Project Plans

China has plans to get more of the water towards the North of China. The project will use dams, tunnels, canals and pumping stations to draw 45 billion cubic metres of water upstream 1,000 miles each year. The total cost of the South to North project will be a grand total of $62 billion USD to complete.  The Three Gorges Dam has many pros and cons. It is thought that the dam could withstand a large earthquake. However if the worst was to happen and the whole entire dam did collapse, around 360 million lives could be put in extreme danger! However experts say this is very unlikely to happen. What are your opinions on the Three Gorges Dam?

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