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Defective Three Gorges Dam Adds To
China's Year Of Misery

By Yoichi Shimatsu
Exclusive to Rense

Apres moi le Deluge. The uncanny prescience of Louis XV about tumultuous events after his reign is apt for this past year of crises along Asia's greatest river, the Yangtze, called by the Chinese as Chang Jiang or Long River, starting with last summer's intense drought that reduced the riverbed to toxic puddles, the October biowarfare attack against the World Military Games in Wuhan, the winter outbreak at the Huanan seafood market, and now the flooding that imperils the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydro-power source. What comes next if the dam breaks? Obviously an imaginably horrifying human tragedy, along even more shocks to the world economy since the financial center Shanghai is low-lying in its delta.

Local residents near the dam, just a bit upstream from Wuhan in the same Hubei Province, have posted comments on Chinese chat boards about cracks being visible on that Great Wall across the Yangtze. This is certainly cause for concern among millions of downstream residents also in the historical capital of Nanjing, a place dear to me personally on many levels due to the 1937 massacres of civilians done by the Japanese imperial army and an urban history that includes its hosting of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism (Chan in Chinese, Thien to the Vietnamese and Daruma for Japanese), whose famously cryptic debate with Emperor Liang Wudi was a philosophical masterpiece of ominous yet profound brevity.

Nanjing has been devastated five times in warfare, and so an imminent rupture of the Three Gorges Dam could cause that glorious city's sixth extinction event. Therefore, I absolutely do not wish for a total disaster and instead hope that the highest levels of Chinese authority heed the warnings and drain the dam, which by now s obsolete with diminished significance for national electrification.

Another harmful legacy of the propaganda hoopla that celebrated its inauguration in 2006, after just 8 years of construction, has unfortunately inspired a frenzy of dam-building along the Mekong and major waterways in the larger Tibetan region, all of these now endangered by similar basic flaws in construction materials. The fact that on its inception, the Three Gorges Dam was billed as potentially supplying 10 percent of the nation's electricity supply, especially for Shanghai, China's richest city, the reality over the past 14 years is the diminishing importance of its hydropower output, now down to slightly more than 1 percent of the far larger shares of gas, coal, solar and wind, which are today's dominant energy sources.

Risk Factors

Further on, this essay goes over the many risk factors threatening the dam's structural integrity. These include the haste of construction, which required speed-ups in production of concrete and steel reinforcement rods or rebar, which are simply not up to Western quality standards and in all probability rusts easily, causing expansion of girth that cracks the surrounding weak concrete.

These basic flaws are magnified by the leviathan scale of the Three Gorges Reservoir, that is more than 600 km long (400-plus miles), putting enormous pressure on the dam's interior, which promotes seepage through the concrete. Further on, I will discuss the disturbing quality issues involving Chinese construction materials, based on my earlier metal-craft experience as a millwright at two of the largest American steel mills. The difference between U.S. industrial standards and manufacturing practices that account for the Hoover Dam built six decades earlier than Three Gorges.

The other risk factor, which has had real impact related to the cycle of drought and flooding is China's restart of its nuclear reactors by 2018, following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear moratorium on reactor operations along the East China Sea, which are overheating air temperatures and the waters of estuaries and bays, contributing to the cycle of inland heat waves and massive rainfall.

Another point of serious concern is whether any of the nine planned nuclear power stations slated for construction along the banks of the Yangtze in the near-term future already serve as storage sites for spent fuel rods and other radioactive waste, a rationale for ever-larger tracts of real estate surrounding new n-plants. If so, a major flood could have catastrophic impacts on central China's water supply along with radioactive flows into the Pacific. The PRC authorities have shown zero transparency on any of these crucial issues of importance to all nations in and around the Pacific Basin. Beijing must be held accountable and liable under international law, at the IAEA and by national jurisdictions for failure to disclose the facts, given the fact that official disclosures are even more restrictive than the outrageous secrecy and deceptions from outlaw TEPCO and the Japanese government about the Fukushima crisis. Global governance is a joke if blatant violators are permitted to evade responsibility for loss of life, ruination of the biosphere and economic destruction world wide. We might as well just start dropping nuclear bombs instead on the guilty heads of the dishonest, even if that means collateral damage. A stern lesson must be taught again to murderous cheaters.

The Political Dimension

The ongoing deterioration of the Three Gorges Dam is undeniably happening, but the diagnostics are somewhat compromised, at least in Chinese opinion, by the past eagerness of the global environmental movement to discredit the dam even before construction started. That was due to role of its top-ranked supervisor, Premier Li Peng, who prior to groundbreaking ordered the lethal military assault to clear Tiananmen Square of student-led protesters in 1989.

As can be discerned from my past work, I am a realist on China with an attitude of fairness in valid criticism and praise for good policy rather than taking a simpleminded shotgun approach to critique. Hating China makes as much sense as reviling America, since both countries and systems have virtues and serious vices.

Tiananmen was a complicated set of circumstances, given the backdrop of the Gorbachev regime's sellout of the Russian people to the Rothschilds. I was one of a few voices back then, indeed the only one at first who urged continuing dialogue with Beijing authorities to avert even harsher reprisals against the more idealistic and politically inexperienced students, as I have more recently done for Hong Kong, arguing that total condemnation of the regime could worsen terrible outcomes instead of calling a humanitarian truce. It's just too easy to be pedantically moralistic when it's not your own daughter or son in prison facing a firing squad. In a human drama individuals cannot be tossed into the boiler flames like a cigarette butt or yesterday's newspaper. Politics must be kept at the level of a fiercely contested game rather than a war without mercy.

Another point is that a leader's actions in a national crisis should not tarnish his or her entire record of achievement. For instance, President Richard Nixon is still reviled by the mainstream media although he and certainly not the Democrats ended the senseless mass killing of innocent civilians and American GIs, along with enemy troops by the cruelest methods in the Vietnam War. By drawing down the conflict, Nixon proved to be one of the most sensible of all American leaders, rather than vainly trying achieve glory in a sea of blood. Good deeds and crimes should not be weighed on the same scale, but judged separately. Watergate was bad, but nowhere near as evil as the Democrats' unthinkably brutal no-win war.

I say this not because I'm any fan of the premier or of Nixon, but due to my awareness of Li Peng's daughter who had spent many months, and later years in Scandinavia because she saw Sweden and Norway as viable models for China's future of social and political development, as Beijing moved away from the discredited Soviet-style elitist command system. A secret back in the mid-1990s, this was told to me by her dog-sled musher, a veteran of the Iditarod trail race, during my visit to his outfit in northern Sweden. The premier's daughter was especially impressed by Scandinavia's reliance on hydropower generation for 90 percent of its energy needs, even during the long cold Arctic winters.

An important point to note here is that most high-altitude modern hydropower projects do not require a dam at all, or only a small one, since water can be channeled into a vertical-drop tunnel bored inside a mountain for maximum gravity power without visible signs of human intervention other than a stream flowing out of a cave on exit. On a per liter basis, a deep drop is the most efficient hydropower generation system. In a smarter world, the international environmental movement should have promoted this sort of advanced model rather than doing the unthinkable sellout, which was to ally with China's filthy coal industry. As a critic of climate change hysterics, my objection to coal in China is due to the use of thousands of trucks to haul coal from mines to power plants, leaving a wide trail of coal-dust contamination along roadways, villages, streams, farms and forests along their route.

Dam Yankees

The other reason that the Scandinavian model did not pan out is the admiration of the founder of the First Republic, the Hawaii-raised Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who experienced the American fascination for the innovative Muscle Shoals multipurpose hydroelectric dam built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Alabama during the late 1920s. That inspired Dr. Sun to envision a vast modern dam across the Yangtze River as the symbol of a modern China with technological mastery as the antidote to the nation's degradation since the Opium Wars era.

Indeed, toward the end of the American military mission in China against the Japanese invasion, in 1944, the Army Engineer Corps' head designer John L. Savage, renowned for Hoover Dam and Grand Coulee, surveyed and drafted a plan for the Yangtze River Project, which trained more than 50 Chinese engineers in the USA. This legacy was adopted wholeheartedly by Chairman Mao Zedong, following his expulsion of Soviet advisers, on his famous swim in the big river at Wuhan in his "swimming poem" envisioning high bridges and a dam somewhere upstream. During the Dixie Mission to wartime Yenan, the base of the Chinese communists against the Japanese military, Mao developed a personal admiration for the American character as opposed to the dour manipulative and backstabbing Russian-controlled Communist International.

The Three Gorges Dam, in short, is an American ideal transplanted to the heart of Asia, just like tank warfare, jet bombers, nuclear-tipped missiles and Tesla e-cars. Many of the eco-unfriendly and downright murderous technologies worldwide are thanks to American ingenuity, and so instead of blaming the Chinese, it is perhaps more helpful to learn to question the value and risks of invention rather than merely worshiping their speed, convenience and stylishness, especially when other societies are so enamoured with the newest American thing but lack the workmanship and design capability to build super-duper devices safely. Futurism is questionable at least and genocidal at its worst.

To be fair about the shrill warnings of imminent dam collapse from the Falun Gong's Epoch Times and its unsuspecting American true believers, there are legitimate worldwide concerns about the deteriorating state of the Three Gorges structure. The doubts about the actual underlying condition of that dam are driven by uncertainty and alarm due to pervasive censorship in China, which denies open access to vital data and refuses to hear contrary opinion required to make sober judgments.

Soviet by habit

Unfortunately for the Chinese during the early Cold War, there was the alternative model as opposed to American ingenuity, which was the labor-intensive construction, lack of safety concerns and gigantic scale as seen in the final dam-construction scene in David Lean movie based on Boris Pasternak's book "Dr. Zhivago", when Lara's daughter waves at the aging protagonist as she rejoins the horde of Russian workers building a Soviet-era hydropower dam. The structure in the film was located in Spain, standing in for probably the Dnieper Dam in the Ukraine SSR, although semi-autobiographical Zhivago's meeting with the Tania, daughter of his beloved Lara, supposedly happened in the Urals. Hydro dams were the symbol of progress over many generations in the 20th century.

To be fair and balanced, even well-designed dams can be unwieldy, and the USA has its share of imminent collapses, for instance, the frightening Oroville Dam, the structurally unsound Mojave and Prado, these just to name ones in California. On the opposite end of the safety, it is amazing how many dams manage to survive quakes, silt-build up and aging, so I am not singling out China, since this discussion is focused on the human hubris of trying to halt the sheer power of "feng shui", wind and water.

"Accidents just happen" and so nature is usually blamed rather than assigning human error and its invariable background of official kickbacks, cheating by contractor companies and the bureaucratic inefficiency of state planning, in China's case its continuing reliance on Soviet-style Five-Year plans, which gets superficial results but denies creativity. Due diligence in project management basically means, in the Chinese context, falsification of the numbers to conform with official regulations. Even in cases where violations of construction rules were somewhat justifiable, as in the collapse of the over-built schools in the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, a candid explanation of the social conditions and extenuating circumstances that pressured local education officials to authorize additional floors were never explained in the Chinese media, other than by me as a guest speaker as a disasters-experienced journalist on national television. Cut the censorship to allow society to hear lessons from other places, compare note and work out novel solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.

Tiananmen Square legacy

In the lens of history, people tend to focus on the politician who by appearances looks more like a villain than the actual bad guy. Dem war-monger candidate Hubert Humphrey who was confronted by the Chicago Democratic Convention protests in 1968 was virtually forgotten after the Watergate scandal, whereas Richard Nixon has been dunce-capped and tarred as the ultimate evil crook, despite his pulling the American boys out of the no-win war in Vietnam. This same failure of rational assessment has applied to Li Peng, who had thick eyebrows over his black-rim glasses and rouged sagging cheeks, as compared with that jovial Russian bear of a faker Mikhail Gorbachev, whose "liberalization" policy would have transformed the People's Republic of China into a Yeltsin-style national famine followed by Putinesca militarist interventions against remote places like Syria and Libya. China is an economic expansionist power but not yet, thankfully, an all-out imperialist aggressor. Yes, things are bad but never forget they could easily get much worse. Instant change on demand is available on the streets of Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis just like the Euromaidan protests and other color revolutions and the Arab Spring paid for by George Soros and the jihadist Emirate of Qatar, the main sponsors of Thousand Currents, the funding channel for Black Lives Matter.

Li Peng's pitch for the Three Gorges was aimed at a ceasefire in the intra-party feud by the liberal academic faction swayed by Mikhail Gorbachev's personal visit to meet the Tiananmen protesters, which in the age of television was indeed an act of promoting perestroika in China along with his own Soviet bloc. Was Gorby's visit yet another Kremlin Big Power play in Chinese affairs in the same manner as Stalin's aggressive behavior to dominate the early years of the People's Republic while stripping out its scarce uranium supply for the Soviet A-bomb?

There's hardly an imaginable equivalent for foreign meddling in the USA, since Soros has zero charisma. Let's say if neoliberal Tony Blair had visited the BLM protests to urge Americans to suspend the unfair Constitution, dismantle the Republic, toss democracy overboard and voluntarily rejoin the kinder and gentler gun-free British Empire on bended knee to the Royals, there might actually be professors and Congressmen in favor of national suicide. Perceptions across the ocean do not always match the values of the silent majority of patriots, here or in China. Fundamentally, most nations do not want to be dominated by a foreign power or an alienated elite with strange values.

In effect, the inauguration of the big dam in 2006 opened a new chapter of economic progress in the minds of the majority of Chinese citizens, by then done with the Tiananmen mantra, and met with grudging acceptance by the academic liberals. At a domestic political level, the dam project also succeeded against the environmental movement's secretive alliance with China coal industry, contrary to their hypocritical grim warnings about global warming. Let me clearly state here that I do dislike compromise, which is the art of politics, since I could well live without that dam, which has been an obnoxious obstacle to my scientific interest in ancient Chinese watercraft, none of which are to be found anymore in the Yangtze, now crowded with barges hauling sand dredged from the Three Gorges Reservoir downstream to prevent Shanghai from being sucked by tides out to sea. So personal preference and political acumen are two different perspectives, corresponding to the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

Climate Change Hypocrisy

What has never been reported by the pro-government Chinese media or the Western news agencies is the deceit, betrayal and cover-ups by the international environmental movement, which remained in uncritical opposition to dam construction after Tiananmen and during the next three years run-up to the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, the moment of conception for climate change theory. The Three Gorges ground-breaking occurred in 1996, and the following year marked the Kyoto Summit, the official kickoff of climate change as UN dogma in the crusade against carbon dioxide emissions from "fossil fuels".

Although the Three Gorges hydro project was, indeed, a smoke-free type of "clean energy", the global environmental movement, driven by the liberal Rothschild agenda for a global carbon tax, continued the Gorbachev-initiated drive to gain neoliberal control over the Chinese economy, especially its energy sector, by assailing dam-sponsor Li Peng as the "Butcher of Beijing". (I do not mean to say he was the Chinese Santa Claus.) Does anyone still recall that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the slaughterers of Tripoli and Benghazi? No, they are the True Blue anti-racists who inspired Antifa and BLM's arsons and murder spree for racial equality in the landfill.

The green lobby's betrayal of its own principles was shown in its unqualified support for the massive China coal-burning sector, which at the time and now still supplies the majority of electrical power. Under the influence of the Green Party and its allied Social Democrats, the government of Germany invested millions of euros in foreign aid for new "clean coal" power plants equipped with scrubber technology to prevent escape of particulates, that is the particles in carbon smoke. Meanwhile, Vice President Al Gore, architect of the Kyoto Protocol and UN COP, arranged for Peabody Coal to establish a particle-filtering research center with China's largest coal-burning energy companies.

Meanwhile, I was an eco-consultant in the Western deserts of China, where the first large-scale solar-panel projects were being set up along with rows of wind turbines in the extremely arid and sunny Yumen Gap, in a natural eastward-flowing wind funnel, basically a narrow pass between two hilly ranges. At a meeting with a research engineers with the national State Grid, their staffers told me that they could not market a single volt of genuinely clean energy to the central China cities because the German-financed fake "clean coal" industry had set up shiny new coal-fired plants on the western side of every major town to block power-lines from solar and wind producers.

At a conference in Berlin, I met with Green Party leader Joska Fischer to explain that the German embassy and foreign ministry had funded "clean" coal with great fanfare but never produced a final 10-year study to assess the negative impact on promotion of truly clean energy. He nodded off in a daze, muttering a mantra "a New Industry" based on my revelation of the massive scale of China's wind-and-solar sector, struggling to expand in an unfavorable national energy market. That was at a time when the New Silk Road highway was not yet completed and pipelines were still far from their destination in Turkmenistan. At that point, too, the Rothschild-backed Mikhail Khordokovsky with Yukos Oil was offering to build a gas-and-oil pipeline into northern China to curtail energy independence.

From the real-world maneuvering to control the energy jugular of major economies, climate change theory was a total scam by the major financiers allied with the Rothschild-dominated BP and Shell, pressing for a global carbon tax. Then came the Fukushima meltdowns of 2011, which completely challenged the energy mix.

The Nuclear Factor

So my point is not to mix up political preferences with real-world mega-projects that will outlive any controversies of the passing moment. Every project has to be judged by its performance rating and its downside effects, which is not an easy equation to calculate except in the case of nuclear power, which is dangerous, expensive and racks up never-ending costs for storing spent fuel and radioactive waste.

The seeds of national self-destruction are being sown by an ambitious state plan to construct 9 nuclear power plants, each with 4 reactors, along the Yangtze and its tributaries. The immediate crisis, looming over the next few months, are the massive chemical plants and petroleum refineries on the northeast bank of Nanjing, which if ruptured by the collapse of the Three Gorges Dam could threaten not only the nearby bedroom community of apartment towers but also the entire population of Shanghai, the financial center of the PRC. Instead of tampering with Hong Kong over some youth protests of minor importance, other than arson of the city Metro (yet Beijing supports similar violence by Black Lives Matter in the USA), the national authorities should be dealing with their own problems on the mainland, at a time of reckoning when disaster upon disaster is by now the present pattern of how great economies have died throughout civilizational history.

The present flooding of 40 rivers was caused by nuclear power plants along China's seaboard. Of the 49 coastal reactors, about two-thirds have resumed operations over the past four years, following the end of post-Fukushima moratorium. The combined effect of oceanic heating by millions of tons radioactive waste-water from the melted down TEPCO plant (plus secret Japanese dumping of high-level atomic waste at various points in the Western Pacific and the Southern or Antarctic Sea), and the release of hot water, used as coolant, from China's nuclear reactors is the best explanation for the heatwave of summer-fall 2019 followed by ocean-water evaporation, which is the root cause of rain storms now drenching inland China. The other source of post-moratorium nuclear heat is from the many nuclear stations in India coming online, and sending hot moisture on its way over the Himalayas into China.

In addition there have been several accidents at China's nuclear plants, the best known being at the Taishan nuclear station in Yaogu Bay, just north of Hong Kong; Sanmen, a long-delayed Westinghouse unit in Zhejiang, south of Shanghai, and Fuqing n-plant in Fujian Province, at the center of military build-up along the Taiwan Strait which suffered a radioactive release in mid-2019, which was covered up by closure of transportation routes by "troop exercises".

Although none of this information is on any public record much less in reports from the UN watchdog IAEA, nuclear culpability is writ large at at time when carbon emissions are at a modern-era low due to the economic impact of the COVID outbreak. If anything, the heatwave across the USA and China's summer of flooding are proof that nuclear energy continues to be the actual mega-cause of weather disruption.

Concrete full of air

There has been much speculation about the rapid deterioration of the Three Gorges dam, which has become a serious matter when risking water reached peak levels soon after flooding started in late June. The debate over apparent warping of a section of barrier is yet unresolved through an independent investigation by structural engineers, with the government in its usual posture of absolute denial of crisis and total censorship. Better to be ignorant and dead than to answer reasonable questions. Defenders in the propaganda bureau claim that distortion of satellite imagery is the reason for the bent shape of a dam-wall section. The fact than only one section is bent, while the others are in a straight-line formation should indicate internal swelling due to water seepage and warping of steel reinforcement rods, one picture being worth ten thousand words.

The dam's more serious problems, as noted by Chinese hydrologist Wang Weiluo, are in the notoriously poor quality of Chinese concrete, which has led to micro-fissures and visible cracking.

To produce concrete, the Chinese tend to use low quality sand from river-dredged sludge, produced by screening away gravel. The sand is often not thoroughly rinsed to remove particles of clay, as can be seen its gray or brownish color as opposed to the sheer white of silica. The overriding rationale behind impurities is, of course, the loss of revenues from less volume. In a handful of "sand", one can see what's wrong with Chinese concrete, which is shockingly weak and breakable compared with, say, with sturdy dense concrete in the U.S., Europe and, even more, in the beyond perfect concrete produced in Japan. Hydrologist Wang is well aware that the massive water pressures behind the dam are eating away at the concrete, not only at the water surface but also deep down as the undertow grinds away at the dam's foundations. Worse, due to the farm chemicals and urban effluent, the water tends to be acidic and reactive, eating away at alkali cement.

Chinese cheapening of concrete with a higher sand-to-lime ratio would be hit with criminal penalties in the States, Western Europe and especially Japan. The latest trick in China is pure evasion by adding polymers, basically plastic fiber, into the slurry to churn out ultra-thin and light but bendable slabs. With cheapness above all as Rule 1, the Chinese get what they pay for.

Spirit of Steel

My own experience as a steelworker in America's shutdown heavy plate and seamless tube mills has trained me to detect the production deficiencies in shoddy Chinese rebar rods due to an unacceptably low standard of tempering at China's wire mills (rods are referred to as wire in the steel industry). Wire mills whip out miles of rod at incredible speed, shot out into a series of rollers for evening, straightening, indenting and initial tempering. After cutting, the rod sections are precisely tempered in ovens for different amounts of time, and compressed, depending on their intended use. With a gas cutting torch, I've severed miles of tangled rods whenever an adjoining rod mill went haywire. Otherwise, rod-making is a highly automated process that demands precision engineering and inspection of process to achieve high quality. If the steel is substandard, as it is in China, of course quality suffers as can be seen in the easily bent rods at Chinese construction sites, swaying like palm trees in a typhoon.

Of course, today, what passes for steel is made by peasants in or from India and China for the benefit of property speculators, bureaucrats and bankers whose sole interest is in the simplest, most malleable and weakest of metals called gold. This is age of greedy know-nothings stripping the world of its natural resources and leaving behind expensive but cheaply made flim-flam structures without grace or durability.

China in not a metal-working society but is geared to plastic molding, superficially pretty but bendable and brittle. After returning from China to the USA, I am pleasantly shocked that bolts don't break and screw-heads do not shear off or bend, but actually hold their shape. Tempering of metal is historically very much connected to the forging of the human character. Most rust and bleed away, only few are stainless and strong.

The shortcuts in these two basic construction materials result in porosity under enormous pressure, with water seepage through concrete which causing rusting of low-grade insufficiently tempered steel reinforcement bars. Rust expansion on the rod surfaces increases internal pressures inside the concrete, which then begins to fragment, as shown in the cracks on the dam's surface. The Three Gorges Dam due to its rushed construction and practically worthless materials must be torn down, the sooner the better, proving again that corruption buys shoddiness, with faked inspections not up to the literal pressures of the task.

The basic flaws in the structural condition of the Three Gorges Dam serve as a warning to other countries involved in the One Belt Road project to conduct credible materials testing by mechanical engineers and rigorous inspection in engineering labs to prevent the long-term risks of substandard materials for mega-projects. Poor workmanship, cheap prices and quick completion may seem like a bargain but the ultimate price in human lives, property destruction and environmental degradation could be astronomical for any national economy. Cheapness of materials is absolutely essential for manufacturers to pay kickbacks to construction ministry officials and to state-funded bankers for loans in advance of production and order fulfillment. Low quality and corruption are endemic to China, especially its mega-projects.

Power of Fengshui, wind and water

In the natural science tradition of ancient Taoism, wind and water are the most powerful forces, as shown by violent storms and most visibly the great dragon of a river called the Changjiang, the proper Chinese name for the Yangtze, the latter name referring to its lower reaches where it meets the Grand Canal. The Three Gorges Dam restrains a reservoir that is 660 km (410 m) in length and an average 1.12 km in width, with a surface are of more than 1,000 km sq. It contains 40 cubic km (32 million acre-ft) of water.

One cubic kilometer of water weighs more than 1 billion U.S. tons, meaning the dam is holding back nearly 50 billion tons of H2O, with a significant fraction of that pressure directed against the dam wall due to the sheer verticality of the great dam wall. Another factor is the prevailing eastward wind on the water surface, expressed in wave motion against the 2,335 meters (7,660 feet) length of dam wall with its height topping off at 185 meters (607 feet). The bigger the dam, the harder they fall from the combined force of wind on water, the power of Fengshui.

Hydrodynamics on this massive scale, impacting a 2 km concrete wall, are complex, since the water is moving at different depths and directions, which is why the warning of a possible dam collapse coming from Chinese hydrologist Wang Weiluo should be taken seriously. The Beijing leadership scoffs at any possibility of construction flaw or miscalculation in engineering and design of this monumental project (construction starting in 1994 and turbines operating in 2006). The present flooding serves as a stern warning about the fragility of the Three Gorges Dam, which should be decommissioned, which probably would not threaten the economy. A dam break, by contrast, will be unstoppable and mega-destructive, meaning an incalculable risk of loss of lives, farmlands, industry and entire cities.

Workers died to build that oversized dike, and surely many more people shall perish under a coming deluge. Grand visions have a way of collapsing along with the pride of man, broken in the dust again. Stay humble, work hard and live simply instead of needing all the wasteful appendages. Row or sail a boat, drop a fishing line for your meal and always respect and learn from Wind and Water, the twin elements of Fengshui, in order to foster the growth of Wood, the biological element, and the roots nurtured by the metals in Earth, but beware of Fire, which creates technology and transforms metal into weapons, destroyer of cities and forests and human lives. Live the Tao.