13 Facts About the Controversial Massive Chinese Dam That Slowed the Earth's Rotation

Jan 29, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

The Three Gorges Dam is one of the most ambitious and equally controversial projects on the planet.

How much do you know about the Three Gorges Dam? You have probably come across dams through your travels, or there may even be a dam near your home town.

Dams can be awe-inspiring, human-made feats of engineering, powering the lives of the surrounding communities.

Yet, in the same breath dams are the subject of notable and significant national, regional or international controversy. And, no dam has garnered as much notoriety as the 3 Gorges Dam; a dam that is so massive in scale that it has actually slowed down the earth’s rotation.

For the uninitiated, a dam is a large barrier built across rivers and streams to confine and utilize the flow of water for human purposes such as irrigation and the generation of hydroelectricity.

So, if you have always wanted to hear the story behind the Three Gorges Dam and what makes it so controversial, it is your lucky day. An efficient man-made monument to innovation, or a destructive monstrosity? Today you will decide. Here are thirteen facts about Three Gorges Dam.

The Dam Was Originally Sun Yat-Sen's Idea

Often considered the father of modern China, Sun Yat-sen originally proposed the idea of the Three Gorges Dam all the way back in early 1919. Overthrowing China’s Manchu dynasty in 1922, Sun Yat-sen sparked the revolution that would plant the seeds of what would eventually become the Republic of China.

In an article titled, “A Plan to Development Industry”, Sun Yat-Sen proposed the idea of constructing a dam that not only would help control the flooding of the Yangtze River, but also embody China’s “new might.” However, it would be a while before the project would come into fruition.

Three Gorges Is Massive

Though some claim the Three Gorges Dam is viewable from space, this is not true. Nevertheless, the dam is massive. Made of steel and concrete, the steel dam is 7,661 feet long, almost 600 feet high.

Engineers needed 510,000 tons of steel to construct the massive dam. To put that in perspective, with the same resources you could build sixty different Eiffel Towers.

Three Major Purposes

Though the Three Gorges Dam tends to attract more negative attention, there have been some noticeable positive benefits of using the dam.

The Three Gorges Dam was engineered to serve three main purposes flood control, hydroelectric power production and navigation improvement, which some believe, is also a great advantage of having the dam.

Power Hungry

To generate all the energy, the hydro project needs tremendous infrastructure. The Three Gorges Dam provides energy to millions of people using 34 massive generators.

In short, that would be like a power plant burning through, 25 million tons of crude oil or 50 million tons of coal

The Three Gorges Project Took Decades to Become a Reality

Over the years, the idea of building a dam large enough to hold the Yangtze River at bay seemed unfeasible for all who tried to undertake the task. After Sun Yat-Sen proposed the creation in 1919, the Three Gorges Dam was not discussed until 1944 into 1946.

The Republic of China signed a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to design the dam in 1946. However, this project was quickly abandoned due to the Chinese civil war that followed World War II. There were multiple attempts to build the dam in the 1950s and in the 1970s, yet social turmoil always forced the project to be postponed.

The first day of construction on the Three Gorges Dam did not officially begin until December 14, 1994, with it being in operation by 2009. There are consistent adjustments to the dam being made every so often to this day.

Three Gorges Was Delayed Since the Beginning

Since the Three Gorges Dam was announced in 1994, the project was writhed in controversy and delays.

The project was originally slated to complete in 2008 but spiraling costs, environmental concern, Chinese political corruption, and resettlement issues caused the project’s progress to slow and at times halt, causing more bad than good for locals.

Water Pollution

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the Three Gorges Dam is the amount of damage the dam does to the environment.

Estimates state that 70% of China’s freshwater is polluted and the dam could be making it a lot worse. The dam sits on top of old waste facilities and mining operation. Not to mention, 265 million gallons of raw sewage is deposited in the Yangtze River each year.

Massive Migration

When the project was constructed, 1.2 million people were forced to relocate and find new homes.

Currently, the Chinese government is still migrating people out of the area and is expected to move an additional hundred of thousands of people out of the region in the coming years.

Better Flood Control

Seasonal flooding of the Yangtze River has been a major cause for concern for the people afflicted by the natural disaster for countless years. The Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world, snaking 6,357 km across Asia.

The Three Gorges problem helps keep the river at bay during the flooding season, helping protect millions of homes and lives downstream as well as important cities that sit adjacent to the Yangtze like, Wuhan, Nanjing, and Shanghai.

The reservoir that has been created by the dam measures 405 square miles in area.

Power Generation

The Three Gorges dam generates 11 times more power than the also massive Hoover Dam, as the world’s largest power station coming in at 22,500 MW.

The amount of energy that is generated is so massive, the Three Gorges dam is said to largely support the entire nation of China.

The Negative Environmental Impact

In the region surrounding the Three Gorges Dam, you will find it is the home to 6,400 plant species, 3,400 insect species, 300 fish species, and more than 500 terrestrial vertebrate species.

The dam has not only affected these species but also the environment they live in.

Erosion of the reservoir has triggered landslides and has even threatened one of the world’s biggest fisheries in the East China Sea. The dam is so massive that it has created a microclimate that has threatened the ecosystem of the region.

Three Gorges Has been Costly

The Three Gorges Dam as not cheap at all. Estimates for the total cost of the dam have ranged everywhere from $25 billion and have soared as high as $37 billion by some counts.

The project was even met with some pushback by the Chinese parliament because of this cost as well as the 140 towns, 13 cities, and 1,600 settlements (historic sights) that were lost when the dam was constructed.

It Has Slowed the Rotation of the Earth

The secret behind this phenomenon is inertia. If it hasn’t been established yet, the Three Gorges Dam is massive. When the dam is at its maximum, the reservoir holds 42 billion tons of water. A shift in mass that size does affect Earth, increasing the length of a day by 0.06 microseconds.

Unrepentant teen with a long list of offences is why some parents shouldn't breed

Nov 25, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Ralph Wee Yi Kai, a 19-year-old Singaporean man, has pleaded guilty to eight charges on Nov. 25 during his plead guilty mention before District Judge May Mesenas.

The charges include consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure at the Singapore Zoo, and committing mischief by damaging property, reported CNA.

Another six charges will be considered during his sentencing.

Probation is "not realistic"

Wee pleaded guilty via video link from his place in remand, where he has been since Nov. 6.

The prosecution strongly objected to a probation suitability report, noting that Wee is "beyond the control of his parents, which renders probation unsuitable", according to CNA.

The prosecution asserted that probation "is not realistic" for Wee, based on his repeated offences and conduct in court.

They cited his "blatant disregard for rules", and urged for a reformative training suitability report instead.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Lee said Wee "has a tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol", which caused him to behave aggressively towards his parents.

He also "posed a risk" to them, which led him to be admitted to the Institute of Mental Health.

"Never expected it to come to this"

Wee's defence lawyer Shashi Nathan requested for the addition of a probation suitability report, according to CNA.

Shashi maintains that his family is able to supervise Wee, and added that his client "comes from a good family" who are "able to look after him".

He said that Wee was undergoing "a severe emotional crisis" when he committed his offences, and shared that the case has also affected Wee's family, especially after their home address was released to the press.

"While Ralph understands that what he did was wrong, he never expected it to come to this," said Shashi.

Difference between probation and reformative training

Wee was ordered to go though both assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report, reported Yahoo News.

Offenders who undergo probation will not have a criminal record, while reformative training, which provides a more structured environment, results in a criminal record.

What Wee's lawyer said

Wee's lawyer said his client acted out after breaking up with his girlfriend, 18, who was the one who filmed the video of Wee backflipping in the zoo.

The defence lawyer, Shashi, said Wee spiralled into an emotional crisis as a result of his break-up.

Wee is homeschooled.

The court was told Wee saw a video of a man riding a giraffe and decided to make a video in the rhino enclosure, Yahoo News reported.

The ex-girlfriend had filmed the act and posted it on her private Snapchat account.

Wee posted it on his public TikTok account and a police report was made by a zoo personnel within the same day.

Wee removed the video when he was told to do so by the police, but reposted it on Dec. 18, before being told to remove it again, claiming he thought the video had been made private when he reposted it.

Wee had also included a link in his Instagram account biography to directed to a page selling t-shirts with the words "rhino ralph".

But he denied creating the merchandise profile.

He later removed the link.

Wee will return to court on Dec. 20 for his sentencing.

Timeline of events with updated details

Oct. 9, 2020, 2:40am: Allegedly committed an act of vandalism by hitting an information panel at a bus stop in Sixth Avenue, off Bukit Timah Road, causing S$900 in damage.

Allegedly caused damage to two cars -- S$2,800 to a Mercedes-Benz and more than S$1,600 to a BMW -- in nearby Sixth Crescent.

A taxi driver passing by reported him to the police, as Wee was standing in the middle of the road with a beer bottle in hand.

Dec. 16, 2020: Wee was placed on compulsory supervision for 60 months from Dec. 16. He was required to present himself for urine tests on each Tuesday and Thursday, but failed to turn up on four occasions.

He was placed on e-tagging during this period of time, after having been charged for his earlier offences.

He had to stay at home from 10pm to 6am as part of his bail conditions.

Dec. 17, 2020, 2.40pm: Accused of trespassing into the rhinoceros enclosure and taking a video.

Dec. 18, 2020: Reposted zoo video, despite taking it down earlier after being told to do so by the police. Told to remove video again.

Dec. 24, 2020: Accused of abusing a frog, which subsequently died, by hitting a ball against it on a foosball table, causing "unnecessary pain and suffering".

The incident allegedly took place at a Sentosa Cove property.

July 2021: First hauled to court and charged with two counts of mischief, as well as one count each of vandalism and criminal trespass.

Bail was then set at S$15,000.

Aug. 6, 2021: Allegedly consumed cannabis while out on bail. Arrested at his residence and two urine samples obtained tested positive for weed. S$15,000 bail revoked.

Sep. 14, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-vaporiser and six e-cigarette pods at a ward in the Institute of Mental Health.

Three police officers showed up at IMH, where Wee was warded, to arrest him for failing to attend court.

He was admitted to IMH due to his drug and alcohol abuse, as had acted aggressively towards his parents when they demanded the drugs from him.

He was warded in IMH due to the risk he posed to his parents.

Oct. 13, 2021: Charged with one count of drug consumption while still in remand.

Bail raised to S$20,000 and Wee was released.

While out on second bail, Wee committed a string of offences, including cutting his electronic tag, according to ST, as well as not reporting for his urine tests on a few occasions, CNA reported.

The prosecution has called for an urgent bail review hearing to have Wee's second bail revoked for the alleged fresh offences.

Oct. 26, 2021: Allegedly cut a S$100 GPS ankle tag at an address on Leedon Road at about 12:10am.

Prior to this act, Wee was upset at his father, who had asked Wee to sleep early since he had to report for his urine test in the morning.

After arguing with his father, Wee decided to leave the house, and used pliers to cut off his e-tag before cycling to his friend’s house.

Upon discovering that Wee was missing, his father called the police.

The e-tag, worth S$100, was damaged and could no longer be used.

It was found in Wee’s house.

Oct. 28, 2021: Allegedly possessed an e-cigarette pod at the Leedon Road address.

Nov. 5, 2021: Warrant of arrest issued, as Wee could not wake up to attend court.

Nov. 6, 2021: Wee arrested.

Nov. 12, 2021: Slapped with four additional charges.

Nov. 25, 2021: Pleaded guilty to consuming weed, causing unnecessary suffering to a frog, possessing imitation tobacco products, trespassing into a rhino enclosure, and committing mischief by damaging property belonging to others.

Ordered to go though assessments for a probation suitability report and a reformative training report.