Despite fatal mudslides, disappearing fish stocks and parched riverbeds, China’s headlong dam-building rush shows no signs of slowing. Liu Zhi, of the Beijing-based Transition Institute, examines why. He argues that government control of rivers, rewards for ‘growth’ and bribes from dam-builders give local governments incentives to approve dams willy-nilly. Since the losses are borne by the public, while the profits go to local officials, they get built anyway. The situation won’t change, Liu writes, until Chinese governments face the rule of law.
Overdoing anything, or doing it in the wrong spot, even something as green-seeming as hydropower damages an ecology (or multiple ecologies, as in this case). Development, even of green energy projects, without close examination of the environmental impacts of that development, helps no one.