Hubris on the Yangtze
- 555 — height, in feet, of the Washington Monument, the tallest structure in Washington, D.C.
- 575 — height, in feet, of the new Three Gorges Dam in China (which is also wider than 100 Washington Monuments standing edge to edge)
- 4.3 million — cubic meters of concrete needed to build the Panama Canal
- 26.4 million — cubic meters of concrete needed to build the Three Gorges Dam
- 80 — number of cracks, up to 8 feet in depth, that have appeared in the Three Gorges Dam since its construction 1
- 53 — number of engineers and other experts in China who in 2000 urged their country’s government to rethink its plans to push ahead with the Three Gorges Dam2
- 16,000* — number of Native Americans who were forced to abandon their homes and land in the infamous Trail of Tears emigration of 1838 3
- 1,900,000 — number of Chinese citizens who could ultimately be forced to abandon their homes and land because of the building of the Three Gorges Dam 4
- 40 — percentage of farmers displaced by the Three Gorges Dam who will not receive land in compensation, according to current plans 5
- 40 — percentage of migrant laborers displaced by the dam thus far who have failed to find replacement jobs in factories 6
- 10 — number of months journalist Dai Qing was jailed for stating her opinion that the Three Gorges Dam would prove to be “the most environmentally and socially destructive project in the world” 7
1. The Guardian, John Gittings, 06 Jun 2003; also, China Daily as reported by BBC, 12 Apr 2002.
2. International Rivers Network, press release, 08 May 2000.
3. Cherokee Trail of Tears: Other Paths, Ralph Jenkins, 1996.
4. International Rivers Network, Beyond Big Dams: An NGO Guide to the WCD, 08 May 2000.
5. The Lancet, Adrian Sleigh and Sukhan Jackson, 24 Feb 2001.
6. Yunyang County Labor Department, China.
7. CNN.com, Bruce Kennedy, 1999.
*[Correction, 26 Nov 2003: This article originally stated that 2,800 Cherokees were forced to relocate on the Trail of Tears. In fact, more than 16,000 members of a number of different tribes were removed from their homeland.]
Get Grist in your inbox