Three Gorges Dam Localizes Upstream Waste. Positive Externality?

One of the conversations that I find myself in, and write about as well, is the ability of tangibility to catalyze change. that instead of focusing efforts on issues like “climate Chnage” and saving the polar bears, it is important to look locally at the source to fix problems before their byproducts (methane, CO2, lead, etc) are able to do their damage.  So, when reading through the recent Business Insider piece China’s Enormous Three Gorges Dam Could End Up Being A Huge Mistake, I came upon a slide that I though put this into perspective well.

It was a story that was focused on the wider issues of the dam, the moment of people, building up of silt, its role in recent droughts, but it was on slide 15 (of 18) where I my interest peaked:

Over 265 billion gallons of raw sewage are dumped into the Yangtze annually, which now collects in the reservoir instead of being flushed downstream and out into the ocean. However, the government insists the new sewage treatment plants have this under control, according to NPR.

Looking at the picture that accompanied the slide, and looking at picture on Google, two things are clear.  Trash is collecting at the dam, and their new sewage plants are not enough.

Quoting the NPR article Concerns Rise with Water of Three Gorges Dam:

Residents on the Jialing River, a tributary of the Yangtze River near the city of Chongqing, have been campaigning for years against a local chemical plant that they say is illegally polluting. Qu Guoxiao says he has watched many co-workers die of cancer in the 30 years he has worked at, and lived near, the plant. He adds that the pollution aggravates his own asthma.

So, what once was a problem that would float away and have no local impact has effectively turned into a local problem.  An interest reversal as it places the responsibility squarely at the feet of those who have the most power to do something about it.

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