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Asia

The Disappearing Rivers of India

November 15, 2011 Asia Pacific Memo 0

Memo #120 – The vital rivers of the state of Uttarakhand in northwestern India may soon disappear. A multitude of feeder streams and tributaries that run through the state carve tight passages through steep mountains before joining the sacred river Ganga (Ganges). Ancient and contemporary Hindu traditions are steeped in worship of these tributary rivers, and their sacred confluences are named “prayags”. But Uttarakhand is part of a frantic push across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and China to harness the rivers of the Himalayas for hydroelectric power.[1] This movement threatens to alter entire river systems in an unprecedented way. […]

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China

Polluted Water Challenges China’s Engineering Efforts

November 1, 2011 Asia Pacific Memo 0

Memo #114 – Water is central to China’s environmental challenges. While not water-short overall, the geographic and temporal variations in China’s precipitation are extreme. Some areas suffer from dangerously lower per capita fresh water availability. Water conservation innovation does happen, but shortages usually elicit familiar engineering responses such as dams and diversions. Most notable is the South-North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP), which aims to take nearly 45 cubic kilometres (45 billion cubic metres) of water annually from the water rich Yangtze River basin to water scarce regions around the Yellow River basin in the north. The diversion would essentially replace the Yellow River’s total annual runoff of 30 billion cubic metres. […]

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Asia

Water Conservation on the Tibetan Plateau

October 25, 2011 Asia Pacific Memo 0

Memo #112 – China’s most pressing water issues may not be its maritime claims in the South China Sea but matters of freshwater security. For many analysts, China’s domestic and international water security begins and ends with waters of the Tibetan Plateau. And the picture they paint is, to say the least, bleak. Unfortunately this ignores many grassroots and local water conservation efforts in western China. […]

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China

Interview with Dai Qing, the Environmental Activist, Investigative Journalist, and Writer

November 19, 2010 Asia Pacific Memo 0

Memo #39 – The indomitable Dai Qing (戴晴) has chosen to demand answers to uncomfortable questions and bring to account a system that dreams big dreams but harms those it is meant to serve. Ms. Dai is perhaps best known for her active opposition to the Three Gorges Dam project, which led to her imprisonment for ten months in 1989. Her new work with her long-term partners Toronto-based environmental NGO Probe International is an oral history of Beijing residents’ responses to their city’s water crisis. Rapid development has drastically reduced the capital’s water supply and sparked a massive new project to divert (highly polluted) water from the south to the north. This project would displace several hundred thousand people en route and promises to be at least as problematic and disruptive as the Three Gorges Dam. […]