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China's Three Gorges dam nears completion

BEIJING -- At a time when many countries are questioning the benefits of damming their rivers to harness electricity, China's government has announced it is almost finished building the World's largest dam.

Called the Three Gorges, it is a project 13 years in the making. The dam has taken 25,000 workers, and more than 16 million cubic metres of concrete to complete.

As engineers, many of whom have devoted their entire careers to the site, gathered for a celebration this week, the final concrete on the massive structure was poured.

Spanning the mighty Yangtze, the world's third-largest river, the dam stretches 2309 metres, and rises to a height of 185 metres.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 21st, 2006 at 01:15:39 AM EST
Another megalomaniac insanity has been finished.

Of course, both for purposes of electricity generation and flood defense, a dozen or more smaller dams on tributaries would have been more sensible. With the amount of silt carried by the Yangtze, this monstrosity will get into trouble in a few decades.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun May 21st, 2006 at 04:11:55 AM EST
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You're more positive than I am. I was going for one decade. It's highly dependable on land use these days - and what I've been hearing is not so good.

And never mind the unknown effects of coastal erosion because of the loss of silt influx...

by Nomad on Sun May 21st, 2006 at 04:22:04 AM EST
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As engineers, many of whom have devoted their entire careers to the site, gathered for a celebration

This is one of (many) problems inherent in megaprojects;  their scale and timeline calls for such career investment that you end up with whole subcultures (sometimes multigenerational) of techies and engineers who cannot afford -- emotionally or careerwise -- to admit for one minute that the whole thing might be a bad idea.  It is their whole life.  They form a tremendous bloc of inertia (or momentum in this case) and orthodoxy and denial, having invested so much of their lives and selves in the Project.  A change of course or conceptual model becomes simply unthinkable and critics of the Project become The Enemy, heretics, etc.  

This is the exact opposite of "let a thousand flowers bloom," or diverse innovative development where people can switch models, jobs, focus, emphasis, strategy fairly easily as ideas pan out or fail in the real world.  The Vogon Constructor Fleet mentality takes hold and the Project becomes a kind of deity or cult.  The concept of Investment Trap made concrete, as you might say.  I think Three Gorges will be remembered, if anyone's bothering to write history 50 years from now, as a colossal design disaster.  One that will make the Tupelov, the Columbia, the Edsel, and other famous oopses and turkeys look like very small potatoes.  Anyone want to place a small bet?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun May 21st, 2006 at 04:36:30 AM EST
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