By Derek Sandhaus
In an interesting piece of news that slipped under the radar at the end of December, it was announced that the Yunnan government has officially put a cork in the Tiger Leaping Gorge dam project . We suspect that they were hoping this would go unnoticed by being announced on a Friday right before the holidays and, judging by the response, it almost did.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Tiger Leaping Gorge dam project (also known as one of the worst ideas ever), it was the Yunnan government’s attempt to follow in the footsteps of the Three Gorges Dam by building a hydroelectric dam at the base of Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Yangtze. The theory was that by harnessing the river’s most treacherous rapids, they could pump out clean energy for the region. Never mind that this could undermine the already underachieving Three Gorges Dam project, Tiger Leaping Gorge is on top of a colossal fault line, at least 100,000 people would be displaced, as well as a host of environmental, economic and practical problems.
So this week the upstream residents all let out a collective sigh of relief (as did those of us that haven’t yet visited what, by all accounts, is a breathtaking natural wonder). But, as the great Charles Bronson once said, ‘this ain’t over.’ China still needs to shake its cough…wheeze… coal dependency and prove to the world once more that it is capable of building really big stuff. The word is this dam will be moved further upstream into Tibet where it will become their headache. Also as many as a dozen hydroelectric projects are still in the works in Yunnan alone.
This, however, is quite a reversal on their previous stance and perhaps it indicates a willingness to approach this kind of issue with a more level head. We kind of doubt it, though.
Photo from chinaRoll