The Yangtze River is the longest river in China, the longest in Asia and the third world, after the Amazon and the Nile, and runs entirely through the territory of the People's Republic of China. It is also called Chinese Yang Tse-Kiang (blue River) o Chang Jiang (long river).
It has a length of approximately 6.300 km, discharge 31.900 m³ / s and drains a vast basin 1.800.000 km².
The river from its source in the Tibetan plateau in Qinghai Province, primarily flows towards this, across the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of Qinghai, Tibet, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai, to dewater in the East China Sea.
It is often considered the Yangtse as dividing line between North and South China, although the Chinese geographers generally consider the Qinling Mountains line-river Huai He is the official line of geographical division.
It is the largest river in the region, Yangzi is historical, culturally and economically very important in China.
One of the dams on the river, the Three Gorges Dam, It is the world's largest dam and also the largest hydroelectric power station.
The section of the river flowing through deep gorges in Yunnan Province, It is part of the protected areas of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas, a declared World Heritage by UNESCO.
The river is navigable for much of its route. Oceangoing vessels can reach Wuhan while other boats sail to Yichang less draft.
The water feeds the Yantgsé 40% Chinese territory and 70% production of rizícola.
The Yangtze River by the union of several important headers forms, It is the main, the farthest, scientifically, which should bear the name of itself Yangtze River. This is the western end, the Jinsha River, which in turn continues as Tongtian river upstream and then as Tuotu river. From the city of Yibin, where the Jinsha River and the Min River unite -the northern head of Yangtsé-, the river and definitely takes the name of Yangzi. In turn himself Yangtsé, traditionally, I was considered divided into three sections: the upper course, which it is considered the section from Yibin to Yichang City; the midcourse, which it corresponds to the section between Yichang and Hukou County, where the river meets Lake Poyang; and the downstream, the section from Hukou to Shanghai, the mouth at sea.
Born in the Kunlun mountains, to some 4.900 meters, in the southwest Chinese province of Qinghai. Descends southward to an altitude of 305 meters (Yibin city), discoursing to the vicinity of the town of Huize, after crossing the provinces of Sichuan, Xizang (Tibet) y Yunnan, then turning abruptly in a northeast, and then roughly east, through Central China (Sichuan provinces, Hubei, Anhui y Jiangsu), finally entered the north of Shanghai, in the East China Sea.
The average flow at the mouth is 4 million liters per second, and the volume of sediments that drag is estimated at 170 million cubic meters.
The main tributaries of the Yangtze are Han, Yalong, Jianling, me, He and Wu Tuo. By the Grand Canal, It communicates with the Yellow River or Huang He. The basin of the Yangtze and its tributaries cover an area of over 1.683.500 km2.
From the city of Yibin, in Sichuan Province, The river is navigable to the town of Chongqing, from here to Yichang it becomes very dangerous, because of the deep gorges through which flows, although in an environment of great scenic beauty. A 1.600 km. the mouth (en Yichang) navigation is now possible with medium tonnage ships, and from Wuhan large-tonnage ships. The last 300 km. its route, approximately, the river becomes flat and runs almost at sea level.
Economically, the entire Yangtze river system is a network that runs through heavily populated regions of China, encouraging communication between them and the development of rice production. occasionally, because of heavy rainfall, Serious floods occur with considerable losses, even human. Some major cities through which flows the river are, besides those already mentioned, Nanjing, Anging, Wuchang y Hanyang.
Three Gorges Dam
In 1994, the Chinese government decided to undertake the construction of the largest dam in the world in the region of the Three Gorges, an area of great scenic and ecological value, surrounding the river in an area of 200 km on their way from Chongqing Municipality in Hubei Province. The dam was completed in the year 2009. This project has been criticized from outside China for its high ecological and social costs, since the artificial lake flooded many villages in Hubei.
Before the Three Gorges Dam was built, the river was navigable by ocean vessels upstream to even a thousand miles from its mouth. In June 2003, He closed the river dam, causing flooding Fengjie, the first of a number of towns affected by the project control massive flooding and power generation. It is the largest comprehensive irrigation project in the world and will have a significant impact on China's agriculture. Advocates argue that cities along the river downstream will be free from floods that have repeatedly threatened them in the past and offer them electricity and water transport; opponents, You will be achieved at the expense of permanently flooding many other existing cities (including numerous ancient cultural relics) and causing large-scale changes in the local ecology.
Opponents of the dam point out that there are three different kinds of floods on the Yangtze River: flooding originating in the upper parts, flooding originating from the lower parts, and flooding along the entire length of the river. They argue that the Three Gorges Dam will really against flooding on top, but has little or no impact on floods which originate in the lower part. There watermarks twelve hundred years in the lower reaches recorded in the inscriptions and carvings of carp in Baiheliang, now submerged.
In May 2006, several Chinese experts have issued alarming reports on the state of river pollution. The water supply Shanghai agglomeration could become problematic if no solution.
Según Lu Jianjian, professor at a university in eastern China, he 40% country waste discharged into the river, some 25 billion tons per year. One third of the pollution come from the fertilizer and chemicals, pesticides and agricultural waste; the rest would come from cities, the industrial sector and boats plying the river. further, these waters are considered the most murky planet, with sediment transport is estimated at 680 million tonnes per year.
320 million people in rural areas of the country lack access to potable water, as well as 400 cities suffer from insufficient water supply. In late May 2006, Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Administration for Environmental Protection, It has launched a call for blocking all construction projects that may affect the environment.
Another serious problem is the number of animal species that inhabit the river banks, as their numbers increased from 126 in the middle of 1980 just 52 in 2002. The Yangtse is home to, at least, two species endangered: Chinese alligator and the Yangtze paddlefish. (This is the only place, Apart from the US, which is a kind of native crocodile.) The finless porpoise is also found in the river.
Among the aquatic fauna of the river it stood until recently the baiji (Lipotes vexillifer or Yangtze River dolphin or dolphin China), but in December 2006 an extensive search revealed no signs of river dolphins and was declared functionally extinct. Nevertheless, a copy was spotted shortly thereafter. Unfortunately it has officially disappeared at the end of last quarter 2008.
Although there are still a large number of species that inhabit the river, all are potentially threatened if measures are taken in order to preserve the wealth of wildlife.
ARTICLE CRITIC OF AN AMERICAN MAGAZINE ON THE GREAT PREY
SHANGHAI-For more than three decades, the Chinese government rejected the warnings from scientists and environmentalists that the Three Gorges Dam-the world's biggest-has the potential to become one of the biggest nightmares of China's environment. But last fall, denial suddenly gave way to grudging acceptance that pessimists were right. Chinese officials made a sudden about face, recognizing for the first time the massive hydroelectric dam, nestled between breathtaking cliffs overlooking the Yangtze River in central China, You may be causing landslides, alteration of entire ecosystems and causing other serious environmental problems and, by extension, endangering the millions who live in its shadow.
Government officials have long defended the 24 billion project $ as an important source of renewable energy for energy-starved country and as a way to prevent flooding downstream. When it's over, the dam will generate 18.000 megawatts of power and eight times higher than that of the United States Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. But in September, the government official in charge of the project of the Three Gorges admitted that held “hidden dangers” that could breed disaster. “We can not let our guard down”, Xiaofeng, who oversees the project for the State Council of China, Wang told a meeting of Chinese scientists and government representatives Chongqing, an independent municipality about 31 millions adjacent to the dam. “We simply can not sacrifice the environment for the sake of a temporary economic benefit”.
The observations seem to confirm what geologists, Biologists and environmentalists have been warning for years: building a massive hydroelectric dam in an area that is densely populated, home to endangered animals and plant species, and crossed by geological fault lines is a recipe for disaster .
Among the damage: “There has been a lot less rain, a drought much more, and the potential for increased disease”, said George Davis, a specialist in tropical medicine at George Washington University (GW) Medical Center en Washington, DC, who has worked in the Yangtze River basin and neighboring provinces during 24 years. “When it comes to environmental changes, the implementation of the Three Gorges Dam and reservoir is the great granddaddy of all changes.”
When plans for the dam was first approved in 1992, Human rights activists expressed concern about people who would be forced to move to make room for him. Inhabited for millennia, the Three Gorges region is now an important part of the development boom in western China. Till the date, The government has ordered around 1,2 million people in two cities and 116 people grouped in banks of Yangtze evacuated to other areas before construction, promising them land and small stipends in some cases only 50 yuan , O $ 7 month-on compensation.
Chinese and foreign scientists, meanwhile, He warned that the mother could endanger the remaining residents. Among their concerns: landslides caused by increased pressure on surrounding lands, an increase in waterborne diseases , and a decrease in biodiversity . But his words fell on deaf ears. Harnessing the power of the Yangtse has been a goal since the nationalist leader Sun Yat-sen first proposed the idea 1919. Mao Zedong, the father of the communist revolution in China, rhapsodized prey in a poem. The mega-project could not be done in your life, Nevertheless, because the country's resources were exhausted by the economic failures of the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950 and social upheaval of the Cultural Revolution since the mid-decade 1960 the early 1970. Four decades later, the government raised Mao plans. The first famous Yangtze gorges, a collection of steep cliffs in A Bend in the River-was determined to be the perfect place.
In June 2003, nine years after construction began, la empresa estatal China Yangtze Three Gorges Development Corporation (CTGPC) filled the tank with 445 pies (135 meters) of water, the first of three increases in the achievement of the final depth of 575 pies ( 175 meters). The result is a narrow lake 410 miles (660 kilometers) long, 60 miles (97 kilometers) as Lake Superior and 3.600 pies (1.100 meters) width, twice the width of the natural river channel. “Scientific early warning became reality just one month later, when about 700 Bcf (20 million cubic meters) rock slid into the river Qinggan, just two miles (three kilometers) it flows into the Yangtze River, spawning 65 pies (20 meters) waves that claimed the life of 14 people. Despite the devastating results, the corporation three years later (in September 2006) It raised the water level even more-a 512 pies (156 meters). Since then, the area has experienced a number of problems, including dozens of landslides along one of 20 miles (32 kilometers) stretch of the riverbank. Last November, the floor gave out near the entrance to a railway tunnel in Badong County, near a tributary of the reservoir of the Three Gorges, 4,000 cubic yards (3.050 cubic meters) of earth and rock they fell on a road. The landslide buried a bus, killing at least 30 people.
Fan Xiao, geologist at the Office of Geological Exploration and Exploitation of Mineral Resources in Sichuan Province, near several tributaries of the Yangtze, He said that landslides are directly related to the filling of the reservoir. Water seeps first in the loose soil at the base of the rocky cliffs area, destabilizing the earth and all that is prone to slides. Then, the water tank level fluctuates engineers partially empty the tank in the summer to accommodate floods and increasing again at the end of the flood season to generate energy and the sudden change in water pressure most disturbs the earth. In a study published in the journal Tropical Geography in China 2003, scholars in Guangzhou South China Normal University predicted to play as the water level could trigger activity 283 landslide prone areas earth-.
That's apparently what happened to the 99 inhabitants of Miaohe, a 10 miles (17 kilometers) upstream of the Yangtze River, he saw the land behind their houses divided into a 655-foot (200 meters) last years wide crack, shortly after the water level of the reservoir was reduced by the summer floods. Officials evacuated to a mountain tunnel, where they camped for three months.
One of the biggest fears is that the dam can trigger severe earthquakes, because the reservoir is based on two main faults: la Jiuwanxi y el Badong Zigui. According to Fan, changing water level strains them. “By altering the mechanical condition of the fault line,” he says, “It can cause fault activity to intensify and cause earthquakes.”
Many scientists believe that this relationship between earthquakes and dams called reservoir induced seismicity, It may have been what happened in California Oroville Dam, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The largest earthen dam in the US, It was built on an active fault in the early 1950 and he filled in 1968. Seven years later, when supply water tank was restored to full capacity after engineers lowered 130 pies (40 meters) for maintenance, the area experienced an unusual series of earthquakes. US Geological Survey. Seismologists subsequently found a strong link between earthquakes and recharge the reservoir.
Oroville area was sparsely populated, so little damage was done. Nevertheless, Earthquakes have also been linked to past hydropower projects in China, where prey are often found in densely populated river basins seismically active. Engineers dams blame China for at least 19 earthquakes in the past five decades, They are ranging from tremors to one near Xinfengjiang dam in Guangdong Province 1962 the magnitude recorded 6,1 on the scale severe enough to knock down the houses Richter.
Surveys show that the Three Gorges region could be next. Chinese Academy of Engineering Wangping scholar Li reports on the website of the CTGPC that the area recorded 822 tremors in the seven months from September 2006 increase the reserve level. Until now, none have been severe enough to cause serious damage. But in 2009, the level of the water dam is set to be raised to its maximum capacity 575 meters and then dropped to a 100 pies (30 meters) during the flood season. This increased water pressure, fluctuation in water and on land covered by the reservoir, dice Fan, makes it a “strong possibility” worsen the situation.
Local news media reported that entire villages of people relocated to make way for the dam will have to pass a second time because of landslides and earthquakes, It is indicating that officials did not anticipate the full extent of the effects of the dam. Guangzhou Southern Weekend reported last year that the people of Kaixian County were eager to move again, citing landslides, Landslides and ominous cracks that had appeared on the floor behind their homes. Also it hopes that the move could solve the problems of land allocation: Some said they had received only half of the surface had been promised.
The displacement water
The dam is also taking a toll on China's animals and plants . The nation-stretching 3.700.000 square miles (9,6 million square kilometers), it's the home of 10 percent of vascular plants in the world (those with stems, roots and leaves) and biologists estimate that half of China's animal and plant species, including the giant panda and loved the Chinese sturgeon, They are found nowhere else in the world. The Three Gorges area alone represents 20 percent of seed plants in China, more of 6.000 species. Shennongjia, a nature reserve near the dam in Hubei Province, It is so quiet that is famous for sightings of yeren, O “wild man”, the Chinese equivalent of “Big Foot”, and only slightly more prosaic white monkey.
That biodiversity is threatened as dam flooding some habitats, reduces the flow of water to the other, and alters patterns weather. Economic development has driven deforestation and pollution in neighboring provinces in central China, endangering at least 57 plant species, including the Chinese dove trees and dawn redwood. The reservoir created by the Three Gorges Dam threatens to flood the habitats of species along over 400 others, dice Liu Jianguo, an ecologist at Michigan State University and visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who has done extensive work on biodiversity in China Professor.
The dam threatens fish stocks most sensitive in the Yangtze. Downstream, near where the river empties into the East China Sea, the land around the Yangtze contains some of the most dense clusters of human settlements in the world, and overfishing has already occurred endangered 25 unique species of fish 177 from the river. According to a letter 2003 the Science of Wuhan University ecologist Xie Ping, Many of these fish evolved over time with the floodplain of the Yangtze. As the dam decreases downstream flooding, fragmented network of lakes around the center, and reducing the water level Yangtsé, making it difficult for fish to survive. The project has already contributed to the decline baiji dolphin , which it is so rare that it is considered functionally extinct.
The deposit can also break land bridges on small islands, isolating groups of animals and plants. In 1986, Raúl Leoni of Venezuela dam flooded 1.660 square miles (4.300 square kilometers) of Earth, creating the great lake of Guri, along with a scattering of land nonsubmerged. The nascent islands lost 75 percent of their biological species within 15 years, according to a study published in Science.
To determine the number of truth, Three Gorges is on plant and animal species, dice Liu, long term data is needed, so the decline in total population can be compared with the natural fluctuation of the species. But he warns that many of the effects of the dam may not be immediately apparent. The project is altering play patterns, which it means it is too late for some plants and animals . “In the short term, you see the species is still there, but in the long run you can see [they] disappear”, dice Liu. This is where the representative of the State Council Wang allusion to “hidden dangers” rings especially true.
Disease and Drought
When officials unveiled plans for prey, which promotes its ability to prevent flooding downstream. Now, the dam seems to be causing the opposite problem, stimulating drought in central and eastern China. January, China Daily (the country's largest newspaper in English language) He reported that the Yangtze had reached its lowest level in 142 years stranding dozens of ships along the waterway in Hubei and Jiangxi provinces. An unidentified official with the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission because of climate change, even though he acknowledged that the dam had reduced the flow of the river in a 50 percent. To make matters worse, China is now plowing ahead with $ 62 billion controversial plan to transfer water from the Yangtze River to north China, which is even more arid, through a network of channels and tunnels to be completed by 2050.
In the meantime, at the mouth of Yangtze Shanghai residents, the largest city in China, They are experiencing water shortages. Decreased freshwater flow also means that the salt water of the East China Sea waters now creeps up. This, at the same time, It seems to be causing an increase in the number of jellyfish, racing river fish for food and consume their eggs and larvae, thereby they threaten native populations are already declining due to overfishing. In 2004, one year after the dam was partially filled, scientists identified a species of jellyfish in the Yangtze River that had previously only reached the South China Sea.
The effects of dam disruption of ecosystems around could have an impact for decades. GW Davis is part of a research project disease schistosomiasis (also known as snail fever or swimmer's itch), blood parasite transmitted to humans by snails, people can go swimming or wading in contaminated fresh water when infected snails release larvae that can penetrate the skin. (Symptoms include fever, lack of appetite and weight loss, Abdominal pain , blood in the urine, muscle and joint pain, along with nausea, persistent cough and diarrhea.) Snails for breeding in the floodplain small islands where annual flooding prevented the population explosion. Now, decreased flow downstream of the dam is allowing to raise uncontrolled snails, which has already led to an increase in some areas where schistosomiasis.
according to Davis, alterations could precipitate an increase of other diseases waterborne microbial also. “Once dramatically they change the climate and changing patterns of water, as it is now seen in the region of the Three Gorges”, dice, “it changes a lot of environmental variables. Almost all infectious diseases are at stake.”
The official recognition of the dangers of the dam suggests that the draft environmental impacts and public health are beginning to sink in Political analysts speculate that President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, They are eager to distance themselves from a project that inherited. Although plans to stop now would be an admission of error Government, opening after the meeting of Chongqing, hopes scientists fear that officials take steps to minimize the draft environmental impact and public health.
Government-funded institutions have been quietly assessing possible resources. Officials say they have spent more than $ 1.6 strengthen billion in areas prone to landslides-and spent $ 3200 million in cleaning water for the next three years. January, the CTGPC signed a memorandum of understanding with the conservation of nature that allows organizing consultations on the protection of species and the health of rivers in the area of the dam. The Ministry of Health of China, meanwhile, He is trying to control infections schistosomiasis with a combination of drugs and applications molluscicides, pesticides that kill disease snail companies.
But these measures may not be enough to avert disaster. In February State of China, She said the Environmental Protection Administration deposit of water quality objectives had not been reached despite a clean-up campaign, which he had been underway since 2001. And the fight against schistosomiasis requires a more holistic approach, multidimensional approach especially now that the ecosystems of the Three Gorges region have changed. To prevent an outbreak, says Davis, the government should prevent the use of human waste as fertilizer, build irrigation ditches cement, Villagers area and ensure access to drinking water. Until now, that has not happened.
Following reports in the media about government concerns, officials began to backtrack. In November 2007 interview with the state news agency Xinhua , State Council Wang argued that “no geological disasters or accidents related” They had occurred from reservoir water level was raised in 2006, five days later, land in Badong and collapsed railway tunnel landslide destroyed the bus and its passengers.
After a brief period of openness, discussion of the environmental impact of the dam has again become a major taboo in China. Government officials fear that the discussion continued without ramifications of the project could lead to civil unrest. One published international Chinese scientist working in the Yangtze Basin declined to comment publicly, pointing out: “This is a very sensitive issue …. I can not give hypothesis.”
Despite the growing list of the Three Gorges Dam problems, Nevertheless, Hydropower remains an integral part and apparently green-component of the energy mix in China. China continues to attract a 82 percent of energy from coal, but large dams are crucial to the national climate change program, which it aims to increase the proportion of electricity from renewable sources from the current 7,2 percent to 15 percent in 2020. More than a third of those from hydropower, more than from any other source. Twelve new dams are planned for the upper Yangtze alone.
Logistical and environmental obstacles involved in implementing these dams underlined China's commitment to the force. The latest Yangtze dam several smaller projects that are necessary to alleviate the sedimentation caused by the reservoir of the Three Gorges included. In its report 2007 National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao said China had moved 22,9 millions of people to accommodate their large hydroprojects.
China's original goal was to fill the tank to its highest level in 2013. In spite of all the problems, this goal moved until 2009, dice Fan, to boost hydropower production by an additional 2650 million kilowatt-hours each year.
“For economic interests and benefits of the Three Gorges Project Development Corporation”, dice, “this is very important. But the function of any river, including the Yangtze, not only to produce energy. At least, [a river ] It is also important for shipping, relief pollution, the maintenance of species and ecosystems, and maintaining a natural balance of evolution. “
“The Yangtze do not belong to the Three Gorges Project Development Corporation , “fan added. “It belongs to the whole society.”
source : www.scientificamerican.com
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