Three Gorges Dam was completed in 2003 and is presently the world’s largest hydropower dam. The project began in 1994 when China was looking for a cleaner and more effective way to create energy to meet the demands of the country’s rapidly growing population as well as the advancement of technology.
China’s Three Gorges Dam is among world’s most ambitious and contentious undertakings. This dam also served another crucial purpose. Because of the Yangtze River’s size, the locals were subjected to floods, particularly during the rainy season, affecting millions of people. The dam was designed to improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of Hubei Province, but it actually made matters worse and retarded the earth’s rotation.
Let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about Three Gorges Dam and how it makes the earth rotate slow.
10 Facts about the Three Gorges Dam
- History – The proposal for the Three Gorges Dam was first considered by Chinese Nationalist Party leaders in the 1920s and was given new impetus in 1953 when Chinese leader Mao Zedong ordered feasibility assessments of a variety of sites. The project’s detailed planning began in 1955. Premier Li Peng, who had trained as an engineer, was eventually able to persuade the National People’s Congress to ratify the dam decision in 1992, despite the fact that nearly a third of its members abstained or voted against the project—an unprecedented show of opposition from a normally acquiescent body. In 1994, President Jiang Zemin did not join Li to the dam’s official inauguration, and the World Bank refused to advance China cash to assist with the project, citing serious environmental and other concerns. Construction of the dam’s main wall was finished in 2006. The remaining dam generators were operational by mid-2012, and a ship lift, which allowed boats weighing up to 3,000 tonnes to circumvent the five-tier ship locks and transit through the dam more rapidly, was finished in late 2015 and began formally working in 2016.
- Physical Dimensions – The Three Gorges Dam is a straight-crested concrete gravity construction that is 2,335 meters (7,660 feet) long and 185 meters high (607 feet). Its design includes 28 million cubic meters (37 million cubic yards) of concrete and 463,000 metric tonnes of steel. The dam, which submerged major portions of the Qutang, Wu, and Xiling gorges for 600 km (375 miles) upstream, has created an enormous deep-water reservoir that allows oceangoing freighters to cruise 2,250 km (1,400 miles) inland from Shanghai on the East China Sea to the inland metropolis of Chongqing.
- Cost – Estimates for the final cost of the project have fluctuated from $25 billion to $35 billion, according to various sources.
- Purpose – The Three Gorges Dam was designed to serve three primary functions: flood control, hydroelectric power generation, and navigation enhancement, which some argue is also a significant benefit of having the dam.
- Navigation – The five-tier ship locks at both ends of the complex, which allow vessels of up to 10,000 tonnes to go past the dam, and a ship lift, which allows vessels of up to 3,000 tonnes to skip the ship locks and transit through the dam more rapidly, make navigation of the dam and reservoir easier. The lift, which was 120 meters (394 feet) long, 18 meters (59 feet) broad, and 3.5 meters (11 feet) deep when it was completed in late 2015, was the largest ship lift in the world.
- Flood Control – For many years, periodic flooding of the Yangtze River has been a major source of anxiety for those affected by the natural calamity. The Yangtze River is the world’s third longest river, stretching 6,357 kilometers across Asia. During the flooding season, the Three Gorges issue helps keep the river at bay, protecting millions of houses and lives downstream as well as vital cities like Wuhan, Nanjing, and Shanghai.
The reservoir generated by the dam covers an area of 405 square miles.
- Capacity – With the river rising 175 meters above sea level, the dam’s architecture can contain 39 trillion kilos of water (10 trillion gallons of water).
- Power Generation – The Three Gorges Dam, with a capacity of 22,500 MW, provides 11 times more power than the equally gigantic Hoover Dam. The amount of electricity generated is so huge that the Three Gorges Dam is thought to be able to power the entire country of China.
- Controversies – Since a large volume of water held back by the dam, small earthquakes occurred in China’s west area.
Because the earthquakes caused by the dam were unstable, 1.3 million people from that region had to be relocated to keep the Chinese people safe. Aside from forcing people to flee their homes, the dam’s construction devastated historical landmarks and the ecosystems of many animal species, putting them in danger of extinction.
The dam flooded three cities, 114 towns, and 1,680 villages.
The reservoir’s erosion has caused landslides and has even threatened one of the world’s largest fisheries in the East China Sea. The dam is so big that it has generated a microclimate that threatens the region’s environment.
- Slowing Earth’s Rotation – Because so much water was held up, an effect is known as “Moment of Inertia” occurred. Because of the large amount of water being forced through the barrier, Earth loses momentum when revolving. This moment is mostly caused by the planet’s massive amount of flowing water.
Because of the large amount of water being forced through the barrier, Earth loses momentum when revolving. This moment is mostly caused by the planet’s massive amount of flowing water.
According to NASA’s estimations, the dam merely delays the rotation of the Earth by 0.06 microseconds. The rotation of the Earth is really slowed rather frequently by other causes such as the position of the moon, earthquakes, and even recently proved climate change.
Even more intriguing, the rotation of the Earth influenced time. Every five years or so, the day gets lengthened by one millisecond, which means that in the future, the day could be extended by hours. This caused the North Pole to move by two centimeters.
The Three Gorges Dam in China sparked fierce criticism both within China and in the international community. Millions of people have been uprooted, and cultural and natural treasures have been lost underground.
Dams continue to play a vital role in the global social, political, and economic system. However, for the foreseeable future, the particular nature of that role and how dams will interact with the environment will most certainly remain a source of contention.
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